Unknown Mission, Part Nineteen

Continued from Part Eighteen


Cutler sat with the saint in a conference room at the county Courthouse. On the door, a sign indicated their impromptu organization’s name, “Angels of Las Vegas.”

The three rogues came in laughing and no wonder. “Angelic” was never an adjective anyone ever applied to them.

Verducci lit a cigar. “All right. Let’s get down to business.”

“Hey,” said the saint. “This is a no-smoking building.”

“What building ain’t? They tell me I can’t smoke in my own house. But when you got the type of dough I do, you smoke where you please, and if someone tickets you, you pay it out in Copper Bouillon.”

Jirel asked, “Do you want to redo the upholstery when the sprinklers go off?”

Verducci extinguished his cigar. “Now that the Smoking Nazis have spoken, what’s the mission?”

The saint stood. “I’m Paul Traylor. I’ve got the mission.”

McGraw swore. “Cut to the chase. Your name could be Shelly Skank and I couldn’t care less.”

Traylor cleared his throat. He pulled a remote control and pressed button. In the holowindow appeared an image of the Las Vegas Bartending and Gaming School for Stallions and Geldings. “While the school’s stated purpose is training male non-persons as bartenders and casino dealers, the overall graduation rate is less than twenty percent. Fatality rates during the twelve years of study are eighty percent.”

McGraw arched an eyebrow. “Twelve years for bartending school? I went through one in a matter of weeks.”

Verducci coughed. “Their ‘students’ don’t tend much bar, or deal many cards. Male harem by another name.” He spread his hands. “So what’s our mission?”

“Three hundred children are enslaved there,” Traylor said.

“And?” asked McGraw.

“Get them all out.”

Verducci laughed. “You kidding? I know that spot. It’s right in the middle of downtown Vegas. You want us to pull up and abscond with three hundred boys?”

McGraw nodded. “Yeah, what good would it do? They’d buy more. Insurance would pay for the loss.”

Traylor frowned. “With your logic, the Underground Railroad wouldn’t have gone very far.”

“Just being a realist.”

“We’re discussing human beings here, precious children created in the image of God. Not replaceable things.”

Verducci shrugged. “All I know is I’ve been waiting a long time. We’ll pull this off.”

Shijo stared at Verducci. “The challenge is impossible. What makes you think we’ll pull it off?”

“You’d be surprised what’s possible. I say to one of my hoods, ‘Bump this guy off,’ and he does it. I say to another, ‘Deliver this shipment’ and he delivers it. The little man don’t always see all that the big man’s got planned. I understand that, and if Cutler’s boss can invade my dreams, he can give us the muscle we need to pull this off.”

McGraw laughed. “Invade your dreams? What, you some kind of nut?”

Verducci growled. “If I am, I’m the most dangerous nut you’ve ever met.”

Jirel raised a finger. “By the way, there is another rule here. In doing this mission, you can’t kill or maim anyone, especially not anyone on our team.”

Shijo’s jaw dropped. “You want us to free three hundred slaves and not kill any of their captors? Would you like us to do it in broad daylight as well?”

Traylor shook his head. “That’d just be complicating things for the heck of it. But, please, no bloodshed.”

Shijo sighed. “I’ll go, but only to honor the prophet.”

Verducci cracked his knuckles, “I’m always in for tweaking the Empire.”

McGraw stood and paced. “I’m in, but on one condition. We need a techie on board. I’ll go if Private Snyder does it.”

Jirel gasped. “But if Private Snyder gets caught-”

“-the same thing will happen that’ll happen to the rest of us. The kid’s a genius, and we need some genius to pull this off.”

Shijo nodded. “Didn’t you bring in the first guy who came to you with a mission?”

Jirel said, “Yes, but-”

“But it looked so promising. Certainly, it was a nice way to solve having three desperate men breathing down your throat, looking for a mission you couldn’t produce.”

“No, this really is the mission. My Boss confirmed it.”

Shijo smiled. “Then surely He can produce Snyder on our team.”

Jirel sighed. “He can. But He works on an entirely different timetable than you. Be prepared to wait.”

Continued…Next Thursday

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