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Ch 27 Second Spark

Updated: Oct 17

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.-Proverbs 22:6

Lars Norton had spotted only the briefest flash of pink before it disappeared into the storage unit. It had been so fast he hadn’t been sure what he’d seen. Running to where it had been, he put his hands up at the sight of three guns trained on him.

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

The small pinkness he had seen was being held in her mother’s arm that wasn’t occupied holding a gun on him. The two boys on either side of the small woman were definitely the ones described to him.

Yes, this was the family he’d been directed to.

“Please, let me explain.” He began.

“Down on your knees.” The woman ordered.

“What?”

“Get down on your knees, hands behind your head.” Her tone brooked no argument.

He slowly knelt and interlaced his fingers behind his head, none of the family wavering with the gun they held on him.

“Eric, check him for weapons, like I showed you.”

The huge teenager holstered his weapon as he came towards him. The tiny woman didn’t lower her gun and neither did the younger boy. This surprised him but, considering what he’d been told, perhaps it shouldn’t.

“Who are you?” She demanded.

“My name is Lars Norton. I’m an attorney from Denver. I’ve been hired by the Fairview family of Denver to retrieve their kidnapped daughters. I’m here to ask for your help Dr. Villalobos.” She narrowed her eyes dangerously. The kid frisked him awkwardly but thoroughly. He waited for her to lower her gun. She didn’t.

“No weapons Siah.”

“Check for bugs, like I taught you.” Taught him what? The boy nodded and began lifting his coat, feeling the skin all along his undershirt, even checking his belt. “Nothing.”

Confrontation 1.0

Only then did Dr. Villalobos lower her weapon and put the little girl down. Still, she didn’t holster the firearm, nor tell him he could get up. The younger boy, the burned one, looked to her, and followed her example, lowering his weapon but not putting it away.

“My ID is in my inner coat pocket along with some papers that will show I’m telling the truth.” She turned to the large boy still looming behind him.

“Take his wallet and give it to me.”

She finally holstered her gun as the boy tossed her his wallet. She took his ID out and carefully inspected it and his bar card. He hadn’t known what to expect when he’d been directed to this newly formed family, but so far what he had seen showed they were exactly what he needed. She put the contents back into his wallet and tossed it in front of him. The big boy shut the garage style door behind him and stayed there.

Confrontation 2.0

His knees were stiff from the frozen floor and he rose awkwardly. She did a slight jerk of her chin at the smaller boy and he finally put his gun away.

“If what you’re saying is true Mr. Larson, why ask for our help? There are legal authorities to handle kidnapping cases.”

“That’s actually why I’m here. I was coming to meet the US Marshals who’d been stationed here but apparently the message I’d sent ahead didn’t get through in time. When I arrived this afternoon they had already left. I went to the local Trading Post to try and get in contact with the home office and from there was able to contact Marshal Charles Dickens of the US Marshal Service. When I explained the situation to him, he directed me to you.”

“Why?”

“He explained to me that his men are already halfway across the state. Even if they did come back right away, they’re too far to get back here in time to help.”

“So why did the Marshals direct you to me? And more to the point, how’d you know to look for us here?” He pulled the paperwork out of his coat pocket and held them out to her. She did not take them. “These papers will explain everything. The short version is they know I need help, fast, and they

Confrontation 3.0

know I need help, fast, and they believe you, and your sons, are the best chance I have of getting those girls back. I was using the shopkeeper, Manaen’s phone. He heard everything and told me where to find you.” She narrowed her eyes at him. He hoped he didn’t just get the man into trouble. “Let me see those papers.” Finally.

Despite the dim light of the two small lanterns they had on behind them, she read through the variety of fax messages and typed correspondence quickly. He saw her eyes widen when she got to the ransom demand. This woman had a heart for children; surely she’d be moved to help.

Confrontation 4.0

“You’re fortunate I know Marshal Dicken’s handwriting.” She said giving him back the papers. “So tell me, what exactly do you expect us to do?”

“The Denver police were able to track down the kidnapper’s last phone signal to an abandoned ranch outside of Tinplate. I don’t think they’re aware we still have technology for triangulating phone signals. The plan was that I was supposed to pay the ransom at a drop sight in Denver and they would give us the girl’s location, but they never showed to the meet and have since upped the ransom. There is no reason to believe they’ll stay true to their word. The last call the parents received, made it sound like the girls were being- tortured.” His voice cracked.

“Doctor Villalobos, you have to understand, they’re not threatening to kill the girls; they’re threatening to sell them.” He choked back a sob. “Please, I need your family’s help.” Siah narrowed her eyes at him again. “Is this a set up?”

Confrontation 5.0

“What? No ma’am, I’m simply desperate. I am asking for your help and willing to pay for it.” She crossed her arms, tapping her index finger as she glared at him. “I’ll need to confirm your story.”

She gave a signal and the big teen opened the door behind him. The doctor held the little girl's hand as she led her family into the large suburban he’d seen across from the storage unit they’d been in. He followed in his own car back to the Trading Post, where Mr. Carver confirmed his story. She seemed to trust him and took him at his word.

Then she asked to make a call. He was surprised to see Mr. Carver pull out a satellite phone. He wouldn’t have thought a small shopkeeper like him would have such an expensive device. She looked surprised as well, darting her eyes his way. Mr. Carver gave her a slight nod and she took it. He was surprised again when Doctor Villalobos dialed Marshal Dickens’ office from memory. How did she know his phone number?

She looked him over as it rang and didn’t bother with pleasantries when Dickens finally answered. “Is this some kind of set up?”

Confrontation 6.0

“Doc V, I know how this must look. I understand your suspicion, but these girls don’t have the time to wait for us.”

He went on to confirm everything he’d told her and then some. He couldn’t make all of it out, but whatever it was seemed to make her more suspicious. She pulled the phone away from her and glared at it before flicking her eyes to him. There was a pause as Marshal Dickens stopped speaking and the Doctor stewed. “Ask Mr. Carver if his fax machine is still working.”

She did. It was. “I’m going to fax you some paperwork that will legally confirm everything I’m telling you.” She was still on the line when the paperwork came through.

*

Siah could not have been more shocked. She was holding in her hands written permission from the U.S. Marshal Service, that gave her and her family, a license to use lethal force as a means to rescue the two named girls.

Confrontation 7.0

“According to the terms of the paperwork, you would effectively be acting as a legal mercenary. We know who the kidnappers are and we know what will happen to those girls if someone doesn’t get them back. If you have to use lethal force in the act of rescuing them, you will NOT be prosecuted for it.”

“And you’re aware of all the stipulations in this, "contract" I’m looking at?”

“Yes, I signed off on it.”

She checked. He had. So had Judge Abernathy.

Inhale, exhale; according to the agreement, the boys were listed by name as having the same permission she did. They, as a family, literally had license to kill.

“I’ll have to think about this Marshal.”

Confrontation 8.0- Do-Over. If I ever need to age Siah, I'll probably put streaks in her hair just like this.

“Look, I’m afraid you don’t have long to decide. From what I’ve been told, the plan was to do the exchange tomorrow morning along an abandoned road cut. The only advantage we have is that they don’t know we traced their last location. The only real chance of getting them back is to get them before they take off in the morning for the exchange.”

“I don’t understand, if they want ransom, why not just pay it?”

“Because we believe the girls were kidnapped from their original kidnappers. That’s why they didn’t show up to the last meet. If they’ve been taken by who we think they have, then that second meet is a set up and whoever goes to it will be killed and the money and girls taken. Siah took a calming breath.

“Marshal, I hear what you’re saying, but I do not have only myself to consider any longer. I have to pray about this.” The boys have seen enough death!

She wanted to scream. Her family would not be pushed into anything. She looked at them as she hung up on a clearly dissatisfied Marshal. They had to have heard everything. She handed Manaen back his phone. One look at his face and she knew what he wanted her to do.

*

She stalked to the bathroom, slammed the door behind her, sat on the edge of the tub and prayed.

Lord God, I finally have the sons I’ve always dreamed of, I want to protect them. I want to keep them safe, give them time to heal from everything! They’ve been through enough…

Her own words about training Sharlie how to shoot someday came back to haunt her.

For Sharlie she was afraid of being in physical danger. With the boys it was the reverse. She was worried how they would live day to day.

Confrontation 9.0 But Siahs still young here so she has no grays :-)

With what they had been through, what they were capable of, was being protected and safe, not for them? They had known only danger and violence. She had shown them a different way to live these last two months, a different way to view themselves, not just as killers, but as protectors…

She rubbed her hands over her face and through her hair. Was that what this whole bizarre situation was about, teaching them how to use violence for good; to use their fierceness to protect? Was this a knowledge she didn’t dare hold back from them?

Lord God, is this, what the boys really need?

Train a child up in the way he should go…

O Lord… She broke down and let herself shed a few silent tears before gathering herself. Breathe in, breathe out. She didn’t have time for this. She opened her eyes abruptly and opened the door, nearly crashing into Eric’s chest. Nathan was right next to him.

“We’re ready.”

“We can do this.”

There it was again: the spark. This was the first time she’d seen the spark in both their eyes at the same time. “We can use the money, you know we can.” So they’d read the paperwork Mr. Norton had shown her in the storage unit. The reward, (if all went well), was substantial... and they were eager for this fight. The looks on their faces reminded her of when her little brothers found out they were getting cars for their birthdays.

“Eric, the money is not a real consideration in this. What I’m worried about are you two.”

“We can do this Siah. We can.” Nathan nodded.

She put a hand on each of their faces. She loved that they didn't flinch away. They had been through so much already. They had come such a long way...

Confrontation 10.0 Have you noticed the cute drawings in the back?

“I want to protect you both more than anything” The story of King David rang through her mind. He was a killer from his youth, and God used it.

Lord Jesus please use this, all of this, everything they’ve ever been through, for their good and for your glory...

An image flashed her mind that left her reeling; the boys older, bigger, stronger. Eyes intensely focused, warriors in every way. In that moment she knew, this was a mission for them- the first of many. Oh Jesus...

Train up a child in the way they should go… she was their mother. This was her duty.

She sighed deeply and blinked back her tears. O Lord…

Their training began tonight. She steepled her hands in front of her face; perhaps it was true what Mason had once told her: Once you go through that bath of blood, there was no real going back. Not in this world, not when there were innocents in danger.

She turned to Mr. Larson who was looking at her desperately. She would gauge his age to be around fifty, but he looked absolutely haggard. When was the last time the man had slept? Siah had the boys bring out all the extra MRE’s they’d brought in contribution to dinner and helped Elaine unload the furniture from the SUV. Unfortunately, tonight she would not be free to help in the kitchen.

*

It was a working meal as Siah, Mr. Larson and Manaen poured over old maps and schematics he’d brought with him of the grounds they were to invade and hammered out a plan. Eventually Manaen took Nathan aside to show him how to do his part while Larsen made some necessary phone calls.

Things became tense when he began insisting on participating in the op, but Siah put her foot down. That was not going to happen. “I’ve practiced at a gun range before. I know how to shoot.”

“Mr. Larson,” she said calmly. “You’ve never been involved in anything resembling a shootout. You are not coming and that is final.”

Confrontation 11.0 In case you have noticed, those are Candice's Drawings.

*

The lawyer stood and shouted, pounding his fist on the table, looming over Siah. “I am going on this raid!”

Eric couldn’t believe this guy, he was begging for their help and then trying to intimidate Siah? Who did he think he was dealing with? He glanced at her and startled. She was looking at Larson with a dead cold stare that scared him. She’d been using a small pencil to trace out the route they would take. Now she was slowly shifting it in one hand, fingering the tip, tapping the eraser on the table, then fingering the eraser, tapping the tip on the table. He actually felt a chill. Stone faced, she slowly set the pencil down and clasped her hands in front of her on the table. When she finally spoke, her normally soft, deep voice held a cold edge. “Mr. Larson, you are not going on this op with us and that is final.

Now let’s get back to work.”

He had never heard her sound like that before. She stared him down until the man eventually sat back down. Siah picked up where she’d left off on the map, deciding where they would leave the car while on the op.

*

Eric caught Nathan's eye as Siah drove them up to the apartment. By the time they arrived home in the oversized van Mr. Larson had ordered for the op, it was darker, Sharlie was long asleep in Siah’s arms and she was fuming, muttering angrily. “They went out in heels and skirts! Skirts! I can’t believe any parent nowadays would allow a daughter to go out like that, and alone no less,” her mutterings were lost as they unlocked the door and went inside. “… at greater risk by dressing stupid and acting careless. Their parents should’ve been worried long before that night.”

He looked at Nathan over Siah’s head as he unlocked the door. They had never seen her like this. It had started when she’d asked Mr. Larson for details of the girl’s abduction.

When Siah had asked what they had been carrying, Larson had thought she meant like carrying a purse or something, Siah had meant weapons. She’d been shocked the girls had been going to some kind of fancy party in dresses and high heels and neither had trained in any kind of self-defense or carried a gun.

Confrontation 12.0 Yes, Elaine and Manaen have indeed framed their four year old's artwork.

She settled Sharlie to bed while he and Nathan set down the gear Manaen had packed them for the op.

During essential oils time, Eric broached the question he and Nathan had had on their minds all night.

“Siah?” he whispered.

“Hmm?”

“Have you done this before?”

The silence in the room was loaded. Nathan looked at him out the corner of his eye. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked.

“Yes.” she whispered.

Really? He turned around to look at her. She spoke in a whisper.

“It was when I first came out here to Colorado. Sharlie was a baby. I was traveling with several families at the time. Someone came in a pickup and offered a ride to the moms with small kids into the next town. It wasn’t an unusual offer. Many were trying to help refugees like us at the time. Everyone was tired so several took them up on his offer. But something was off, the Spirit told me not to. I didn’t, neither did Elaine.

By nightfall we arrived. We went to the hotel where they’d told us to find the moms and kids, but they weren’t there, no one was. We found a cop who said he had no idea what we were talking about. That hotel had been closed for months.

We gave him the description of the men and the truck and he called it in on his radio. One officer had just seen the truck drive into an old house; another recognized the description of the men as known slavers. There were only three cops in this small town. I left Sharlie with Elaine and a few others. Me, Mason, Manaen and the three officers all went into the house where their truck had been spotted. There was a firefight. I killed four men that day.”

Nathan turned to her as she finished rubbing his back. This woman, every time they learned something new about her, they understood a little more of why she understood them. “So that was why Larson came to you.”

“Mmhmm.”

Confrontation 13.0 Yes, those are just the kind of parents they are.

*

Despite her exhaustion, Siah had a hard time sleeping. The times she had treated trafficked women and children in the Houston ER, the heartbreak, the deadness in their eyes… that had been worse than any shootout, but that first firefight, the day that had changed her forever…

“Lord Jesus, do not let them give up hope.” She whispered. “Somehow, let those girls know that help is on the way.”

She looked at the gear the boys had piled in the corner. Manaen had given them what they needed for the op and then some. Mr. Larson had paid for all of it and given her a satellite phone to keep him updated at every stage of the op. The thing was top of the line from before the ruin. She mused at the man’s taste for high end gadgets. That it still worked meant it had been out of the blast zones of the EMP’s that had fried out most of the worlds electronics, or it was hidden away in a faraday cage when they had all gone down. Either way the things were ridiculously expensive and hard to come by.

That he could make a single call and have a passenger van and satellite phone driven up here overnight spoke to the money he was used to dealing in- and the power he was used to wielding. He was clearly a man accustomed to being in command.

He had seemed surprised when she stood up to him; probably as surprised as she was that he had actually backed off. Just how much research he had actually done on her?

While they’d been planning the op, he’d mentioned he was close to the family and had known the girls since they were small. But he was more invested in this than warranted by a mere family attorney.

He was hiding something. But what?

Confrontation 14.0 And here is where we see what kind of parent Siah is. >;-)

*

Eric perked his head up. Siah and Nathan were both asleep. He looked at Nathan and willed him to wake up. He didn’t. Well, he had been pretty done in. He still needed to use the sling every few hours to give his shoulder a break but he’d really pushed himself today. He decided not to wake him. He never had had a chance to tell him and Siah what Marshal Thompson had told him. He hadn’t really wanted to tell Siah, she’d only worry and there was nothing she could do about it anyway. Come to think of it, the same applied to Nathan. Maybe it was for the best he hadn’t told either of them. He needed to focus on tomorrow. They all did.

He laid back and looked at the fire. When he’d come back from drilling with Siah, he’d overheard Manaen telling Elaine he didn’t think Larson could be trusted. He agreed; he wasn’t telling them something. Since there were no hotels in town, Manaen and Elaine had agreed to allow him to spend the night on their couch. Manaen wasn’t worried for their safety; he and Elaine were both armed.

That was one cool family.

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