March 31st, 2021

_Hostile Takeover_ Part 7

"Maybe two days off. Or three." He steered Forty-one firmly over to the passenger side and got him in . . . noting that there wasn't a bit of redness, let alone oozing around the skull plate.

That fast! Dare I hope he's healing inside as fast as out?

He steered Forty-one into the barracks, then headed for the office. Turned the car in and walked into a very unhappy office floor. He paused to scan for the problem and caught the sound of voices from behind the Chief Detective's closed door.

Enhanced his hearing a bit. A stranger's voice . . . "Prioritize these dangerous Mentalists. Especially this Vinogradov fellow. A powerful man, nephew to a traitor . . ."

Vlad walked on pulling out his phone. A glance around and he popped into the records room. Anachronistic paper records in deep filing cabinets. He picked one at random and tucked the wine bottle into the back of the bottom drawer.

Not a good time to have alcohol show up in my desk, and since this is probably a massively illedgal substance . . .

He finished tapping out Nastasya's number.

Got a worried. "Hello?"

"Tasha? If Axel's around warn him that he's being targeted by the Stutts. And you four . . ."

"Yeah, the guys are gone, and I'm just waiting for Axel . . . his phone is being answered by someone else. I . . . suspect I need to ditch this phone and dissappear."

"Please do. Quickly. I'll keep my eyes open for your boss."

"Thank you." She still sounded worried as she clicked off.

Axel's the strongest Mentalist on the world. He's got to know they'll target him . . . which is piss poor gratitude for rescuing two of their highest ranked people. But when it comes to politics and power, gratitude means nothing.

He dropped his phone back into his pocket and headed for his desk.

The background voices dropped and heads turned toward him.

Detective Devin looked around at him. "Do you know what the hell is going on? They're going to raid Vinogradov House! I thought it was just the old Lord."

Vlad sighed. "Well, they aren't losing any time, are they? What you are seeing is the first stage of a mostly peaceful takeover of a world--ours in this case--as they quickly eliminate the strongest Mentalists before our stupid government wakes up and realizes they've opened the portals and invited the barbarians in."

They all looked at him like he'd grown an extra head.

"Guilt or innocence has nothing to do with who they are going to be arresting these next few days."

Everyone looked around as the door of the Chief's office slammed open.

Lord Bychkov stomped out, looking pissed. He zeroed in on Vlad. "Gargaran! You've been inside Vinogradov House. Please asssist Agent Schweiger in raiding the place."

"Yes, sir." Vlad straightened and eyed the Agent. "Do you have search warrants and arrest warrants in hand? Or shall I call the court . . . No?"

"We have declared an emergency. We don't need warrants. We'll question the Traitor's sons, and the servants. Especially any servants who belong to Lord Axel."

The agent gave a nasty smile. "The Lord we already have in hand."

"That'll be an interesting trial. And . . . if you're going to search the house, bring lots of men, and graph paper. You'll need to map the damned thing, it's a maze."

The baffled twins were unable to help, the wives were upset, the children crying, the servants running about trying to clean up after the frustrated search crews stopped being kind to furniture, having cut themselves on glass shards previously overlooked in upholstery, gotten lost repeatedly . . . couldn't tell which servant was which, all the family resemblances . . .

The Rangers paperwork was missing, along with all four Rangers, Vlad was delighted to see. The rest of the servants records hadn't been updated.

Anastaciya wringing her hands. "We're still trying to figure out which servants to keep! Axel's paying half their upkeep, but legally they'e still ours . . . I think?"

Axel's room baffled Agent Schweiger.

Vlad shrugged. "They treated him like a poor relative, and he spent very little time here." He walked to the next door and tried it. An empty room, a wide doorway to another empty room. Checked the rooms across the hall, empty. Even the bathroom looked abandoned.

Vlad opened the door to the stairwell. Looked up and down. "I really don't feel like getting lost again. Surely you have some idea what you're looking for?"

That got him a snarl. The agent stomped off. Vlad cocked his head at faint screams, and took to the stairs anyway, bedlam reigned on the fouth floor, and Vlad handcuffed two Stutts who'd been trying to rape one of the teenagers. Alevtina had a beaut of a bruised cheek and broken fingernails. A torn dress. The Stutts had some good facial scratches. and were pissed since he'd hand cuffed them to a metal stair rail.

The girl's glare was for another girl, though. "They were looking for Nastasya, and somebody told them I was her little sister."

"Right. All you youngsters stick together and . . . watch something on TV."

Tasha has a little sister?

Vlad found a couple of chairs halfway betwween the kids and the handcuffed goons. Got out his phone and checked in with the Chief. Got told to let the rapists go. Got told to not interfer with the investigation. "Oh, so we're now occupied territory and need to kiss our conqueror's arses so we can pretend we're still policemen and look the other way while they rape sixteen-year-olds?"

The Chief clicked off.

Agent Schweiger found them eventually. And growled at his men and sent them down stairs before he turned on Vlad.

"What? Shocked that our policemen disapprove of cops raping sixteen year old girls? Please do down load your police standards manual, or whatever you call it, so we can figure out where you lot draw the line."

Narrowed eyes.

"So . . . how's the fishing expedition going? Have you found enough to justify arresting the man who rescued your people and warned you of a danger to your President?"

"Shut up." He turned and stalked away.

It was midnight before they packed it up and left. Vlad lingered until the servants all reported that the Stutts were all gone.

He drove home and found all the lights on.