The young women talked on the bus about why they got into ROTC. Emily listened. Hilde said if she was living in Israel, she would be doing the same thing. Military training was pretty much compulsory. Greta, by contrast, said her parents were pacifists, but her family had a long history and tradition of proud military service so they really could not say much when she felt the call to serve her country.
Diane, from Kansas said her brother was in the army. “That and there aren’t many opportunities for college. Not much money back home,” she said. “This way I get help from veteran’s groups and the American Legion.”
“Emily’s brother is in the national guard,” Jessica offered.
“Oh?” Diane looked at Emily who nodded, but declined to speak.
“Besides,” Hilde took up the conversation. “What better way to meet boys?”
“Oh, please!” Jessica tossed her hands in their direction. “Be serious.”
“I would like to meet someone nice,” Diane said.
“And athletic,” Hilde added
“And rich,” Natasha said, which made the others nod.
“Wouldn’t you?” Diane looked at Jessica. Emily looked away.
“I had about thirty boyfriends when I was a freshman,” Jessica admitted. “What a waste of time.”
They talked about it for a couple of minutes before Natasha turned to Emily. “What about you, Ma’am?”
Emily said nothing. Jessica spoke into the silence. “She had a good boyfriend last year. A graduate student.”
“Had?” Greta asked.
“I had to kill him,” Emily said as the bus pulled to a stop. They all had to disembark and form ranks. They were at the firing range.
Emily stood at the head of the class and went through the care and cleaning of the rifle, piece by piece. She took it apart, named all the parts and put it back together perfectly. Then she had to turn her back on the class. She had tears in her eyes.
Captain Driver saw Detective Lisa come in and knew Emily would be occupied for a bit. He picked up the rifle and said, “Sophomore.” That was Jessica’s name. “Knowing your weapon inside and out is important and what we will mainly be working on today, but it does not guarantee that you can hit anything.” He led Jessica to the range and loaded a clip of three bullets. He whispered, “Try and hit the target.”
Jessica managed three trips to the Hollywood range in the two weeks she had free between ROTC summer camp and returning to school. She worked with a personal trainer, and did her best to remember her lessons. She squeezed the trigger, but the bullet was low and to the left of the bull’s-eye by an inch. Her second shot overcompensated by a couple of inches and just nicked the top right edge of the bull’s-eye. Her third shot was a little low and to the right, but well within the bull’s-eye. She was satisfied.
Captain Driver continued to whisper as Lieutenant Brinkman moved up to eavesdrop. “You are one of Hudson’s women, aren’t you?”
“Sir, yes sir.” Jessica answered properly but kept her voice low.
“You are in the group that has been working out with Professor Schultz?” He knew she was but he wanted confirmation. Jessica nodded.
“Professor Schultz?” Lieutenant Brinkman was not aware, but Emily’s Amazon council had been learning hand to hand for a year and now were concentrating on the bow and staff with the hope of working their way up to the spear and the sword.
Captain Driver showed he understood. “Heinrich Schultz in a historian in the old sense. He has forgotten more about combat and arms than you and I and all our books put together.”
The Lieutenant nodded even if he did not fully understand. He had a class to get working, and the class spent the rest of their time taking apart and putting together the ten rifles the company had, and hopefully without breaking them. Very few bullets were fired that day.
After a while, Emily stopped weeping and Lisa let go and stepped back. Emily wiped her eyes and said the words that Lisa did not want to hear. “Thanks, mom.”
Emily laughed, but it was a sad, little laugh. “But why are you here?”
“Latasha,” Lisa said. “She has me tangled up in gang wars and drug dealers and it is a real mess. I keep telling her judges and juries don’t always do the right thing. Even people caught with their hand in it can plea bargain their way back to the street.” Lisa shrugged and pulled out some photographs from her briefcase. “Meanwhile, Anna got attacked in New York.”
“Is she alright?” Emily knew the woman well. Last year, between Christmas and New Year’s, Anna came to Ohio and helped Emily clean out a nest of vampires.
“She is fine, but the only thing she could find to connect the three men is this small tattoo. They were all marked. Miriam at the FBI has plenty of nineteenth and twentieth century scholars at her fingertips. The pentagon has also been notified, and the M I B.”
“Katie Lockhart and her people,” Lisa said without further explanation. “The thing is both Miriam and Anna think it may be older, and I have one man who saw these photos and became very afraid. He says he doesn’t want anything to do with secret societies.”
“Older.” Emily said the word as she studied the images of the upper arms and the small circle with three squiggly lines.
“I was hoping Mindy, your wise woman, could look at these and maybe share them with Professor Papadopoulos. The rest of us are getting nowhere.”
“Where is Mister Jakovich?”
“The range manager? Probably in his office,” Emily said.
“With you here, I suppose, but when he saw me come in he probably locked the office door.”
Emily laughed. The last time she was at the range and Detective Lisa showed up they had to fight off three zombies. Lisa was glad to hear Emily’s laugh this time because it sounded genuine.
When the bus came to a stop on the campus, Amina and Mindy were waiting for Emily and Jessica. Morgan Granger was in trouble. The words came fast.
“She has been taken prisoner,” Amina said. “There are men after the drugs. That is all I know.”
“I made the mistake of showing her a picture of the woman we saw in the library,” Mindy explained. “She grabbed it and immediately felt the connection to you.”
“She was crying out for help.”
“Maria said we had to get you right away. She and Melissa are working on a potion.”
“I brought your address book,” Amina held out the green notebook where Emily kept all her relevant information, including addresses of faculty members, some of whom had since died.
“I said we might have to do something,” Jessica took the book.
“We’re ready,” Natasha spoke for the ROTC group while Hilde, Greta and Diane nodded.
Emily looked at her freshmen and frowned. She pulled out her phone and called Lisa. “Stay in uniform,” she told the girls. “Damn, message. Lisa, Amina had a vision. Morgan Granger, biology teacher is in trouble. Too much Hilde juice. We will start looking at,” Jessica held up the book and Emily read the address. “Amina says people want the drugs. We can’t let that loose.” Emily hung up.
Emily thought briefly about asking for six rifles and bullets, but decided no for herself. Six rifles unloaded might intimidate, but not if someone had a loaded gun. She considered castigating the man for his part in last year’s fiasco. She imagined he was in on the super soldier competition, but she never proved it. She was sure he acted as liaison between the biology department and the Pentagon, but without evidence it was best to keep her mouth shut. Finally, she answered in the only way she could. “Yes sir, but women trouble. Nothing you can help with.” Captain Driver nodded, stepped away and dragged Brinkman with him.
Emily called Sara. Again she had to leave a message as she walked into the gym. The others trailed her and found a surprise which did not really surprise her. “I was about to call you,” Emily said.
Heinrich Schultz was there with the closet unlocked and open—the one where he kept all of his weapons. “Even un-activated, I can smell unnatural trouble miles away.”
Jessica and Mindy got their bows and plenty of arrows. Amina picked up her staff, and the one Maria used. She grabbed a third for Melissa, though Melissa had not spent much time yet in the learning process.
“For the army, I think spears.” Heinrich pulled out four, all different, but all sharp. Jessica was miffed because he had not let them touch the spears yet. His instructions to the freshmen were simple. “Hold the sharp end up when you walk. Point the sharp end at the enemy when appropriate. Try not to cut yourselves.”
“That’s it?” Amina asked. She felt like Jessica. She was good with the staff and could not wait to try one with a sharp end.
Heinrich shrugged and pulled out a shepherd’s crook. “And this for the Priestess. It will be a pleasure teaching her how to use this crook effectively.”
Emily had her knife and got her sword which she left there for when she worked out and Heinrich taught her how to use it, as he said, effectively. It really had no place in her dorm room, and this avoided her need to carry it regularly across campus.
Heinrich pulled out a bandolier of small throwing knives and strapped on his samurai sword. Emily hated to interrupt him.
“I know you are four hundred and seventy some years old, and sterile besides, but you are still a man. The last time we saw Granger she was almost irresistible. The boys in the library could not help themselves just looking at her fully clothed. Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea for you to come.”
Heinrich nodded. “But I can still watch your rear, and maybe keep Mister Ashish or young Rob Parker from stumbling in too close.”
Emily could not argue with that. “Let’s see if we can find her.”
“Shouldn’t we call campus security?” Greta asked.
Emily sighed. Why did it have to be the spunky little German pacifist? “Let’s see if we can find her first,” Emily repeated, and they stepped out into the late afternoon. Emily’s phone rang. Her words were short and to the point. “We will meet you there. Keep Ashish and any other men away from the place.” She paused. “Get Mitzy to drive. She doesn’t get out enough. Fine.” She hung up.
The phone rang again. This time, her words were even more cryptic. She gave the address and only added, “Let’s hope it works.”