Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
We returned to the house for lunch (bologna sandwiches, chips, and
soda... we were in a hurry) and I prepared new spells. First I
prepared a Compulsion spell of fivefold power, then a Paralysis of
sixfold power. I cast a Kinetic Shield of threefold power over
myself, and a Mystic Vision spell as well. I hoped the spells I had
placed on Mark would last long enough; I thought they should, but
magic isn't an exact science.
I returned to the office (for I had done my preparations in the living
room) and told Mark, "Bring your pistol today." He looked surprised,
but retrieved it from the back of the bottom file drawer, along with
"Let me see that," I said, and he handed me the gun. It took me
fourteen extra words to shape a spell of Silence to closely follow the
gun, but I was sure it would be worth it. Compressed so small, the
spell would last much longer than normal.
"This gun should be silent the rest of the day," I said. "Now, Mark,
don't hold the gun like this," I said, showing him a pose I had seen
on television. I had the gun beside my face, pointing skyward. I
said "See?" but of course he couldn't hear me. "Hold it down like
this," I said, pointing the gun at the floor, "so I can hear you, and
you can hear me." I handed it back to him, and he experimented with
Incidentally, this spell proved so useful that I formalized it with the
creation of a custom (and much shorter) Silencer spell; but that
was later, of course.
"Say," I asked, "can you get armor-piercing ammunition for that gun?"
He smiled. "This is San Francisco, dude, you can get anything if you
know where to go."
"Can we get the armor-piercing rounds and still get to Ghedi and
Raziya's place in reasonable time?"
"I think so," he answered, and in fact we were only a little late. As
Mara and I disembarked, I told Mark, "Stay here a bit. I'll be back."
Ghedi answered my knock, and inside we found Raziya in a long bathrobe
reclining on the couch. I won't bore you with the small talk, but
rather I'll say that I put the ring on Raziya and bound a Tap to it.
As she began the healing process I told Mara, "Stay with her, please.
Joseph Green's man will be here soon, and I plan to meet him outside."
"Be careful, my love," she said. We kissed, and I made for the door.
Ghedi followed me. "I will help you," he said.
"No, Ghedi. You must remain here, and protect Mara and your wife." I
felt that appealing to his masculine instincts was the best way to
save his life, for though he was huge and powerful he was no match for
an expert with an enchanted sword.
Back in the car, Mark and I parked up the hill a ways, where we could
easily see the house. One of the spells I had saved was a blanket
form of Mystic Vision, which I cast over both of us, and we sat there
for a while in silence watching the power flow through the Tap. I was
quite worried about fighting a swordsman now, without my ring, but I
tried not to let Mark see it.
At last I saw a transparent glowing figure approaching the house. I
said quietly, "There he is," and pointed.
Mark pointed to the back fence of the house, visible from our higher
position. "There they are," he corrected, and I saw a second figure
bounding over the fence.
"Oh, hell," I said. We got out of the car and ran down the street.
It was a quiet residential neighborhood, as I have said before, and
there were few people on the street at this time; those that were
there scattered at the sight of Mark waving a handgun.
"Looking for me?" I yelled, to get the attention of the nearest
swordsman, for I didn't want him getting into the house. Sure
enough, he realized I could see him, and leaped at me, becoming
visible in flight. This one had a straight-bladed sword also, I
Thwip! Thwip! Mark fired twice at the leaping man, and hit him once
in the leg. I was right! Armor piercing ammunition allowed the
bullet to puncture his mystic protection. I stepped aside and the
leaper crashlanded, rolling head over heels up the hill. He tried to
jump back to his feet, but the bullet had taken him in the knee, and
he fell again.
Mark levelled his gun at the prone swordsman. "Stay down!"
I turned just in time to see the other swordsman leap over the entire
house! He was now visible, his wicked curved sword drawn back to take
me out. I waited until the last minute to release the powerful
Paralysis spell I had prepared. I ducked, and he flew over me,
landing in a heap beside his disabled brother.
"Take a message to Joseph Green," I said. "Tell him I know why
you think you are more than human. I plan to keep your secret, for so
long as you leave my friends and me alone. Tell him I won't be sending
any more of you home alive if you don't back off." Then I spoke a
word, and released the Compulsion at the Paralyzed swordsman; as
before, he was compelled to do just as I had said, that is, to go to
his Joseph Green and deliver my message.
"You," I said, pointing at the injured one, "slide your sword over
toward me, and your friend's also." Mark put a bullet in the pavement
at his feet to punctuate my order, and the swordsman reluctantly
obeyed. I picked up the swords, perhaps foolishly, but I was
unworried about traps this time; I can't tell you a good reason why.
I dismissed the Paralysis spell, and the uninjured swordsman
immediately got up and began bounding away; I took careful note of his
direction of travel.
"You are free to go, as best you can," I told the other swordsman, and
with enormous effort he got up and began walking away. That he could
walk at all on that shattered knee was a testament to his physical
toughness; though as I thought about it, I wondered if it was actually
carrying his full weight...
Quickly we put the swords and the handgun in the trunk of the car.
The battle had been very quiet, but I assumed that the police had been
called. Mark drove away at a casual speed, turning into a driveway at
one point to avoid a police car. He must have heard it coming, for
I'm sure he couldn't have seen it. Soon we were out on more major
streets and feeling fairly safe.
A cold chill went through me as I wondered if anyone had turned in
Mark's license plate number...
I borrowed Mark's cell phone and called Mara. "Hey, love, where are
you?" were her first words, before I had time to speak.
"Around. Call Mark when the smoke clears and we'll come pick you up."
"No need, Ghedi already offered to drive me home."
"I suppose I don't have to tell you not to forget the ring," I said in
what I hoped was a half-joking tone of voice.
"What ring?" she answered brightly, and hung up.
Mark dropped me off at the house and returned to the hospital. I sat
down at the computer, intending to kill time until Mara arrived; but I
happened to notice the note with Daniel's address and phone number on
it. An idea, a "hunch" as they are called, came to me, and I picked
up the phone and called Miyuki Burke.
"Miyuki? This is Solo Jones. I have a few questions for you."
"Well, I'll do my best to answer for you," she said.
"Where are Daniel's bills mailed?"
"I think they all come here... he and Joel changed apartments twice,
and he almost missed a car payment, so he has them all coming to the
"Including the bill for his PCS phone?"
"Yes. Actually that phone is mine; I never used it, so I just loaned
it to him when he left for college."
Now we were getting somewhere! "So the bills come to you, and you pay
"No, I just give them to him and he pays them." Oops... that was less
"Did you give him the most recent bill yet?"
"Yes, just last week. He really wanted to get it paid." There was
now a note of suspicion in her voice. "Was there something important
"I think so, yes."
"Then I'll call the phone company and request a duplicate. Do you
want me to have them fax it to you?"
"Yes, please. It's on the same line as our office phone." I repeated
the number for her.
"I'll call them right away, Mister Jones. Is there any other way I
"No, thanks, not just now. Miyuki, I appreciate your trust in me. I
must say, considering that you must know my suspicions by now, I'm
surprised you are being so helpful."
"Daniel did something wrong, I'm sure of that. He has been acting
very strangely since you were here. Mister Jones, I don't even want
to think about it; but Kimberly is my daughter, and no matter who it
was who used her, I want them brought to justice. I know quite well
how she is feeling right now, and she deserves justice."
"Thank you again," I said, for I could think of nothing else to say.
"I'll be calling you again very soon, I think."
Mara and the fax arrived at almost the same moment, so she got to see
me fumbling with the unfamiliar device. Calmly she walked up and
pushed the bright green "Start" button, took the receiver from me,
hung it up, and kissed me. The kiss lasted longer than the fax
"Nice to see you too," I said after a while. Mara picked up the fax.
"What's this?" she asked.
"The phone bill for Daniel's PCS phone. It's in his mother's name; she
arranged for us to get a copy."
"Here it is!" she said triumphantly. I looked at the date and time, and it did
appear to match. I'd only been using the modern calendar for a few weeks
though, and so I was relieved to hear that I was right. The line item she
indicated showed that the phone was in a small community just to the south when
the call was received, and that the call was from a phone number in the Los
Angeles area, and that number matched the one given by Kimberly for her
brother's apartment phone.
"This isn't enough to prove they were both here, is it?" I asked.
"No, one of them could have been in LA. This shows that one of them was
"Do you suppose we should send this to Moretti, or do we need more information?"
"Have you talked to your client recently? Maybe she should decide."
Ah. Natomi Osaka. I suddenly realized I hadn't exactly been keeping in close
contact with her. Mara picked up Natomi's business card, dialed the number, and
handed me the phone.
"Japanese Consulate, Ms. Osaka's office, how can I help you?" came the voice at
the end of the line.
"This is Solo Jones. I was hired by your boss to do some work for her, and I'd
like to speak to her about it."
"One moment please," she said, and then the hold music came on. The wait was
"Solomoriah," came a more familiar voice. "I was wondering when you might
"Sorry," I said. "This customer relations business is rather new to me. When
can we meet to discuss my findings?"
"You have solved it, then?" she asked.
"Yes. I think you will have no problem with my evidence; I could have come to
you this morning, in fact, but I was waiting for something the police can use.
I think I may have it."
"I'll come there," she said, "right away if that's acceptable to you."
"Yes, excellent. We'll be waiting."
It took two big pots of xocholotl and about as many hours to tell Natomi all
that had transpired in the preceding week, even with most of the tale of
"Wow," she said at the end, "you've had a difficult week." I nodded. "I once
heard a story about people such as you describe, the children of Joseph Green.
I thought it just an old tale."
"Evidently, from what Detective Moretti told us, there are many of them. They
can't all be Joseph Green's children, either. I wonder if Doctor Rabo is one of
them... he doesn't resemble the 'family.'"
"You promised him that you'd keep their secret," she pointed out, "but
you've told it to me."
"Yes. Can I count on you to keep it secret also?" She nodded, and I continued,
"Someday I will have a reckoning with this Joseph Green, but I'm not ready
for it yet. I wanted you to know because of Daniel, and the baby Kimberly is
"Another secret you've told me that you promised to keep," Natomi said.
"Are you questioning my judgement?" I asked, half joking. "If she has this
baby, it will be one of Green's grandchildren. I thought someone in the family
should understand what that means. I trust you implicitly to be discreet."
"I'm glad you told me," she said in reply. "Walter is very much
against abortion, so I think it's likely she will have the child. I
just hope she tells someone soon, so I don't have to keep this bottled
up inside too long."
"So what do you want to do with this evidence?" I asked.
"Well, you indicated that you think Joel and Daniel can be tried and
convicted based on this phone bill and a DNA test. I think you're
right, and we should take it to Detective Moretti. First, though, we
should talk to Kimberly."
So we did. Natomi drove Mara and I to the Burke residence, where Mara
spoke alone with Kimberly while Natomi and I made small talk with
Miyuki. I kept an eye open for Daniel, but if he was there he didn't
After a short time Mara came downstairs. A discreet nod told us that
Kimberly had agreed, so we took our leave of Miyuki and headed for the
We found Detective Moretti outside the precinct office talking to another
detective, but when she recognized me getting out of a Japanese Consulate car
she broke it off and led us inside.
"I should tell you, Detective," I began, "that this is Natomi Osaka of the
Japanese Consulate. She is Kimberly's aunt, and my client."
"I see," said Moretti. "I wondered if she was the person paying your bills.
Pleased to meet you, Ms. Osaka," she said, putting out her hand.
Natomi shook it warmly, then said "Call me Natomi. Now, I must ask Solomoriah
to tell you what he has learned."
"Solomoriah?" said Moretti, rolling my name around in her mouth. "So that's
what Solo is short for."
"No one ever called me that until I met my friend Mark, and he talked me into
using the short form on my business cards." I grinned a rueful grin, then
handed her the phone bill. "This is the bill for the PCS phone which Miyuki
gave to Daniel. If you look at the night in question you will see that a call
was received from Daniel's apartment phone to this phone while it was in the Bay
Area. He asserted they were in Los Angeles at that time. I think if you get
the bills for the apartment phone you will find a call was forwarded
automatically to this PCS phone. They arranged things pretty well."
"I see," said Moretti. "It should be no problem to get that bill, and a copy of
the Burke's home phone bill to round out the story. What does this prove,
though? Do you suspect Daniel?"
"Kimberly told me that she thought the man who held her was Daniel. She based
this on the sound of his breathing and his scent; I didn't think that kind of
testimony would hold up well by itself in court, so I looked for some way to
discredit Daniel's story. This is it."
"You can get a court order for a DNA sample from both men, can't you?" asked
"Yeah, I think that'll fly with the judge. I'm going to ask the chief, and if
he says yes we'll go arrest them both on suspicion. Do you think Kimberly will
testify against her brother?"
Mara said, "I think so; she told me she would. She has a lot of
repressed anger at him; she feels he betrayed her."
"Miyuki will help, I'm sure," I added. "She told me as much on the phone
"Walter might be a problem," said Natomi, "but he's never liked Joel. I think
I'll pay them a visit today, after you arrest Daniel and Joel."
We left shortly thereafter. Natomi dropped us off at the hospital, at my
request. There we found Valerie up and around, if a bit shaky, making plans to
return home. She threw herself at me, hugging me until I thought my ribs would
break. "Mom told me what you did. I don't know who you are, really, or how
you did it, but I want you to know I'm grateful."
"You're welcome. I'm just sorry it took me so long to see the answer."
I hadn't even noticed Emily being in the room, but suddenly she was, well,
climbing me. "I wanna thank you too, Mister Jones!"
I laughed, a laugh of joy I was almost unfamiliar with, as I picked her up and
hugged her. "Call me Solo," I said.
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