When Alex said that he was sorry that he couldn’t warn me, I expected the worse. I reached for the .22 mag revolver. I knew I was already too late even before I heard, “Congratulations Maxine, you even managed to bring everybody home.” It was worse than I imagined.
I probably should have pulled the pistol even thought I recognized the new england accent of my black, sometimes CIA handler, Lamar. “Well what brings you to this neighborhood?” I asked as I placed my cane onto the yacht, then swung my bad leg onto the boat. I would have expected Eve to help me on board, but she was missing already.
“What did you do with Eve?” I asked more curious than worried about her safety. She was move valuable than all the rest of us put together.
“The Priest couldn’t wait to get her alone,” he said with one of those we share a secret smiles.
“Ah the passion of those May/ December romances are hard to control,” I said with a slight smile of my own.
“Yes, I’m sure he has her clothes off by now,” Lamar said. Neither of us said anything that could be called even a hint that Eve wasn’t a young woman, but I’m sure the others had their doubts.
“So what’s next?” I asked thinking I still might shoot him.
“We negotiate for what you have in those packs. You do know we financed this mission?” Lamar said.
“You do know, I put my own money up for my own and even Eve’s expenses. I also guaranteed, that Alex and his men would be paid a share of my share.”
“The head belongs to you but the rest is ours,” he said,
“Have you taken a look around at how many there are of us and how few their are of you?” I asked. “And if I were you I wouldn’t even count Priest.
“Do you know what a Hellfire Missile would do to this boat,” he asked.
“Now how would you explain that to Jennifer. I called her before I got on board to tell her all was well and to work on the yacht’s paperwork.” Of course it was a bluff, but everybody knew that Jen and I were thick as thieves, so it wasn’t all that unlikely. “Also, you would be dead before you could call for anything.”
“I think we can negotiate this,” Lamar said.
“Oh I agree. The bounty on the head is two million. Of course we get that no negotiation required.
“No, you are negotiating for yourself. The Admiral gets half to cover what his people did.” Lamar said.
“Of course, “ I agreed quickly, because it was fair. “We keep the revenue from the sale of the boat.”
“That’s just fine with us,” Lamar said. “Now the computer parts?”
“What about them?” I asked. “They have no place in this negotiation. We took them only after your intelligence proved to be shit.”
“We know that,” Lamar said. “You know nothing ever goes right.”
“Unless you are behind a desk in Langley, then what the hell. Who cares. It’s just a minor pothole in the road.” I said.
“Another million,” he said as if it were an answer.
“Why so you can hide the intelligence and nobody does anything. Or worse yet give it to the Mexican government, so someone there will use it to take over the cartel himself. To be honest Lamar, I just don’t trust our government to do the right thing.”
“A million bucks and you hand the information over to the head of the DEA task force. It never goes into the government system.” Lamar said way to easily. “He had known I would balk at losing the information.
“First, I copy everything. If you don’t take action, I will do something totally off the wall,” I promised.
“You know, we could just kill you?” Lamar asked.
I looked up at the stars for a few seconds before I answered. “But what if you tried and failed?” I asked quietly.
“Alright your two million and we get everything?” he asked.
“Everything I have,” I agreed.
Lamar left to go below. Alex walked over to me. “You finished with the desk thugs?” he asked.
“For now at least, so tell me how the ‘being a pirate’ went,” I demanded
“It was actually fun. I thought about climbing on board with a bayonet between my teeth. I was afraid I would cut my lip though. I’m not as good with pain as you are,” he admitted.
What happened to the fishing boat captain?” I asked.
“I gave him the five grand you told me to give him, if I decided not to kill him. He left for home with a broken radio, five grand, and the not unfounded belief that if anyone knew that his boat was used for this, he would be killed by the druggie gun thugs.”
I nodded my approval. ”Where are the yacht’s crew members?” I asked.
“ I sent them to shore in the rubber boat, when I got your ‘we are on the way’ call.” Alex said.
“So you just paddled up and they welcomed you with open arms?” I asked.
“They did, once we woke them up,” he said that with a laugh. “They were in home port. They had no reason to be super vigilant. The guy on deck watch was sleeping on that padded bench just off the bridge. We just slipped up and work him with that AK47 in his face. He was very cooperative. All of them were after we had them awake and my Spanish speaking crewman explained things to them.
Actually we all stood on the fantail and watched the light show. I explained to them that they needed to find a new employer. I’m sure they were going to miss the money, but probably not the risk. They explained that there was almost always drugs on board the boat.”
“You did toss everything over board?” I asked.
“Of course we did. My men do not take drugs or traffic in them,” he said sharply.
“Good.” I replied. “Alex I’m happy you got this done without a shot being fired. Now when did the Washington trash show?” I asked.
“They must have been circling overhead, when you got Estavante. The chopper with rocket pods came over and touched down on the helo pad just long enough for the politico thugs to get out. That black one told me that if I warned you, they would sink us and you. Using the rockets on the chopper. I still made him prove that he wasn’t one of the Narco trafficker crowd. We could have taken him and the nerd, but the chopped looked to be crewed by guys who knew the score.”
“It’s okay Alex, I would have had to have that talk sometime,” I said it but was still a little peeved that he hadn’t found a way to warn me. They could just as easily have been bad guys, I thought.
Before I could mention anything to Alex, Priest came on deck. “Maxine, could I see you please?” he asked gently.
“Sure why not, I seem to be popular these days.” I said standing. I walked to him and then followed him below deck. I followed him along a short passage way and into a small cabin. It was about the size of the bedroom in a motor home. There was a double bed and a small desk. Eve was sitting in the one comfortable chair by the desk. She appeared to be asleep. I expected she was recharging. It was something I had never really seen her do. I had seen Lucy do it though, so I recognized the posture.
“So what can I do for you Priest?” I asked.
“You can tell me your impressions of Eve,” he suggested.
“Frankly there are way too many to just spout off at you here,” I said.
“Well give my your main impression,” he said.
“Sometimes she seems human others not so much. Most people would probably write it off to being a little kooky. Since I know better, I recognize if for what it is. Sometimes her responses don’t seem just right. She might say the right thing but she lacks the enthusiasm or the indignation, that kind of thing.” I said.
“Did you find her skills helpful?” he asked as he feverishly made note of what I had said earlier.
“Oh she is very good at what she does,“ I replied.
“Good,” he replied. “How did she do in social situations. Did you feel it was obvious that people recognized her as different, even if they didn’t know why.”
“Some did and in some situations. Over all I thought she did remarkably well.” I said.
“Good,” He replied with a smile.
I have no idea where it came from but I asked, “So who is really pulling her strings?”
“What?” he asked almost in shock. He was also angry as hell. “What are you talking about?”
“Doc I might have been born yesterday, but I recognize dis associative behavior when I see it. We had lots of people, who were at least two people in the service. Someone is actively pulling her strings at least some of the time.”
“Lots of people had input into her programming,” he said.
“Do you mean you honestly don’t know. I thought you were the creator?” I asked.
“I’m the CIA project manager,” Priest said indignantly.
“Tell me this, under what conditions is Eve programmed to self destruct?” I demanded.
“If she is about to fall into the hands of an enemy,” he said woodenly.
“And if I happen to be standing beside her?” I asked. I could tell the answer because he didn’t want to answer me. “I see.”
“You had to have known. If she can get out of your range, like Lucy she will, but if not then I’m sorry.”
“Now when is she programed to cut my throat?” I asked.
“Never,” he said indignantly.
“Do you believe that,” I said. “Look I know about Eve. If we are on the run and I’m injured and can’t keep up. If it is allow me to be captured, and most likely made to talk, or cut my throat do you really believe she won’t?”
“I see,” was his only answer.
“So do you want to continue being Eve’s socializer, or do I find someone else?” Priest asked.
“You need to find someone else, or let me meet with the creator. It’s a simple either or,” I said quietly.
The sun was up by the time the chopper landed with the money. It also took Eve, the nerd, and the desk thug away. I looked up at the sunshine, then I went to the bridge. “So Alex where are we off to?” I asked when I was inside the glassed in room.
“Well I’m just headed out to sea right now. Do you have a destination in mind?” he asked.
“Not yet, but let me go below and find Martin, I’ll be right back,” I promised. I went down the stairs to the below deck cabins. I figured that one of the three cabins most likely contained Martin. I knocked and when he came to the door, he made no attempt to hide the fact that both he and Smith were naked. It was obvious that I didn’t know as much about Martin as I thought.
He took a look at me smiled then asked, “Is there something I can do for you, or do you want to come in?”
“It’s a hell of an offer, but I need to talk to Jennifer, can I use your phone.” I asked.
“Absolutely, push speed dial 1 for the admiral, and he will get her I’m sure,” he said.
“Hello,” I said when Jennifer came on the phone.
“I am so glad to hear your voice, I have to know all about what you have been doing. I’m sure my clients are going crazy. When can I go home?” It all came out of her in a gush.