Part 7

by CM Towns

   Friday afternoon was to be an all day practice for Jessie’s band until the emergency call came in, which meant she had to cancel and get to the headquarters at her earliest convenience. Jessie was already annoyed but quickly became angry from the purpose of the emergency meeting. The team was in the Executive Room with Jessie in her seat to Antoine’s left and with Sally to his right while most of the team sat across from them. At the center of the table a hologram hovered but not that of the usual diploma, which represented Kate, but an upside down skull for her assistant Vidya-now using the handle Acid Burn.
   Antoine had finished explaining the few details they had and Jessie finally said, “Let me just fly down there and run roughshod through Montalvo’s mansion!”

   “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Antoine replied.
   Jessie cursed, pushed back from the desk and stood up to say, “These people only understand force! They only understand lethal means. They should have kept to their petty trades but now they want to transition to an evil empire. They’re laughing at me and Red Sprite.”
   Elijah had been seated by Jessie and was watching as her mood sour through the course of the debriefing. Elijah had read a little about the encounters Reina Titán and Red Sprite had with the Cartel but did not realize how much Jessie despised them. Elijah had not talked to Jessie much about her past battles and when she, or Sally, did talk about their various adventures they kept their stories about the Cartel Wars brief. He put a hand on Jessie’s shoulder as she sat back down.
   “What can you tell us about this Montalvo guy?” asked Antoine of Sally.
   “There is not much information other than him being the son of a high ranking member to one of the now defunct cartels. Back during the cartel wars there were three powers vying for control. Parts of Mexico were a warzone. During the fighting Montalvo and others started the smaller Daga and absorbed a number of smaller groups as well as recruiting angry soldiers from the warring cartels. They became a serious player. Myself and Reina, along with military and local vigilante’s, were able to quell some of the violence. In this the Daga Cartel grew to be the one major power,” explained Sally.
   “Why leave them in control?” asked Araminta.
   “Because they needed someone to fill the void. Unless someone was on top of Mexico’s drug trade you would have had several entities fighting for control. The crime attributed to cartel violence in Mexico has been lower since Daga became the top cartel,” Antoine explained.
   “Cartels are not like the Teiwaz. Those racists pricks think themselves soldiers and have built an infrastructure of secrecy and smarts. Cartels-they’re thugs. They walk into a police stations and open fire. They’re wild,” Jessie said tightening her fist.
   “How much time did you two spend in Mexico?” asked Vidya.
   Sally covered her eyes for a moment, breathed in and removed her hand. She said, “A couple weeks. After that we spent time in Juarez.”
   “Shit-Juarez?” Frank remarked.
   “What about this Juarez?” asked Araminta.
   “The most dangerous city in the world. At one time, it’s still in the top ten right now,” answered Vidya.
   “We spent a long weekend there. The results of which… Involved a lot of aggressiveness on our part,” Jessie said.
   “If Jessie knows where their boss is than lets all get together and blow the place up,” Reed suggested.
   “Getting rid of the boss will cause more trouble-”
   “Blah blah,” Reed interrupted Antoine and continued, “Just replace the boss with someone who knows not to screw around.”
   “I like Reeds idea. Lets go. Lets tear into these assholes,” Jessie said.
   “That doesn’t address other issues,” Antoine said.
   “Like what!?” Jessie demanded.
   “You two have followed the Daga Cartel’s movements. You know that these people have a presence in multiple states. If we want to scale them back we have to take out parts of their organization,” Antoine said.
   Jessie threw up her arms annoyed.
   “Where are we talking?” asked Sally.
   “We know they have been gathering parts-alien, new man made tech, and any sort of items that may have some connection to magic,” Antoine said.
   “That’s why they targeted the military bases. We looking to get all that back?” Frank asked.
   “Unlikely. They would have split all that up. Unwise to keep it in one place,” Sally said.
   “Exactly. Our purpose is to scale back their operations. Mark territories and retrieve anything we find but mostly leave enough information for the military, feds, cops, whatever to continue with the job of dealing with the cartel. Now-” Antoine said while typing up on the keyboard terminal at his seat.
   “Texas is their primary hole in the US. They are transporting guns into Mexico and drugs into the states. Big Boss Blackwell thinks it’s also where they have been coordinating these attacks on military installations. Also one of the Cartels top hitters seems to be based in Texas. A large man with a luchador mask that has a bullet in the head,” Antoine said.
   “Tiro Certero,” Sally said before adding, “A heavy. Skilled in hand to hand combat and an excellent marksman.”
   “Exactly how good is he as a fighter?” asked Araminta.
   “Our confrontation was not what you would call an even encounter,” Sally said.
   “Where else?” Frank asked.
   “New Mexico,” Antoine said.
   “Whats in New Mexico?” Frank asked.
   “Not sure. Other than more drugs but there have been evidence of trafficking of illegal alien parts and possible stolen antiquities and jewels. Might be connected to the Daga Cartel,” replied Antoine.
   “The Daga Cartel also operate heavily in Arizona, with footholds in California, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They are pushing through into Mississippi and Florida,” Vidya contributed.
   “Also fighting with other syndicates and families. None of that matters as much as those two states and Mexico itself,” Antoine said.
   “You want us to split up?” inquired Elijah.
   “That’s a bad idea,” Jessie offered her stance on that scenario.
   “Its the best way to deal with them,” Antoine said.
   “I disagree. Teamwork-all together we can hit each area and move to the next,” Jessie said.
   “If we do that their other operations will have time to shut down and clear out before we can hit them,” Vidya said.
   “Hey, V-no offense but you’re kind of new to this so please stay out,” Jessie then pointed to Sally and said, “Me and Sally know from experience that these guys need to get hit hard, especially at their heart.”
   “Jessie,” Sally started before taking a deep breath, “Montalvo will not be dumb enough to stay at his mansion.”
   “That doesn’t change my point,” Jessie said.
   “I know but I have to agree with Antoine here. Splitting up will keep their multiple operations running when we hit our designated targets. Less time for them to move out. Even in small groups we are stronger than any opposition they can provide,” Sally responded.
   “I’m not comfortable risking… The way they-Look, against the Cartel I feel we should stick together,” Jessie argued.
   “Jessie, you don’t have to baby us. We know what we signed up for,” Frank backed up Sally and Antoine.
   “Franks right, Canary. This has to be done. If splitting up the job does it right we should follow through,” Elijah agreed.
   Jessie grit her teeth, turned to look at Elijah who decided to avoid her gaze. He coughed as he looked over to the hologram hovering above the table. Jessie then looked around and landed on Sally.
   “I know you do not like this plan. I do not either but one target at a time as a full team will do less damage than splitting up and hitting multiples,” Sally said.
   Jessie got up and started to storm off toward the door.
   “I need you to take New Mexico!” Antoine shouted to her. Jessie looked back at him and he added, “Find out what’s going on there. Knock a few heads. Tear down the business. Maybe meet up with the Spider Woman. She has had dealings out there.”
   Jessie left the room and the team looked to Antoine and Sally for the next set of directions. Reed wanted to storm off with Jessie. He preferred her plan. Araminta felt nervous about the case if Jessie felt strongly about sticking together. Frank however felt a little sorry for Elijah.
   “Gotta killer stare there, doesn’t she?” he commented.
   Elijah nodded. “Yeah.”
   Frank turned to Antoine and asked, “What about Texas?”
   “I’ll take point with a small team including Monster and our newest prospect,” Antoine said.
   “Prospect?” Araminta asked.
   “The speedster is interested. This will be a try out. I’ll try to get the girl on board to help out,” Antoine answered.
   “You want me to take the rest of the team into Mexico,” stated Sally.
   “Exactly. Get on the horn with some of your contacts. Mr. Monster will fly you out in the Tuskegee-2. Tesla got an armored vehicle in there. A sort of SUV with some surprises which I hope you won’t need,” said Antoine.
   “Araminta, Reed, Frank-pack for three days plus your gear. Be ready in two hours,” Sally said.
   “Two hours?” asked Araminta.
   “Yes. Elijah, grab a few cases of bottled water. Then check the fuel on the flier and armored transport,” Sally instructed.
   The four left leaving Sally and Antoine.
   “What exactly happened to you two in Mexico?” Antoine said.
   “Lots of dead bodies,” was Sally’s only response before standing up and pulling her phone to make a few calls.

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