As a senior investigator in the inspection services, June Penn was used to people making her wait. And she understood. No organization, government, or otherwise liked it when she came snooping around. Nobody liked to be judged or criticized, and unfortunately, that was a huge part of her job.
Forty minutes late, the head of operations entered the room.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Miss Penn: we have a lot on our plates these days. Now let me see... you have a couple of questions about..."
He sat down behind the large metal desk, rummaging through some pages. After apparently not finding what he was looking for, he threw the pages down and leaned back in his chair.
"First of all, Miss Penn, I have to admit that I am... surprised, for lack of a stronger term, by your visit. Our facilities here on Walker Island are supposed to be off the radar, for any service save for the president."
She didn't respond. The paperwork was solid. She knew it, he knew it: this was all some inauthentic blusterring.
"Anyway, I was told you have visited our Wet wing, and that you had some questions about tank D... Now what..."
"There were five women floating around in that tank, wearing breathing devices, and within every few seconds, their bodies were convulsing like crazy! At first, I thought there was some sort of electricity shot through the water..."
He looked in the rearview mirror. Darkness. No lights, no pursuit. Still, he turned off his own lights and killed the engine ten yards before the driveway, just letting the car roll out. Taking the turn to the right slowed him down a bit, but he was sure he had enough velocity to make it to the side entrance of the mansion. And indeed he had to pump the breaks as he arrived, in silence and darkness.
He couldn't believe how bad things had changed for him. Having Mallory and that black ninja bitch of his on his back. They had been chasing him through all of three states, and it had taken all of his experience and his whole bag of tricks to stay ahead of them.
But now he had reached the mansion! That would serve as some protection. Even those two wouldn't risk any direct action against Don Leo and his small army! But then again, they weren't always relying on direct action all of the time. Especially her! That woman seemed to be able to pop out of thin air, wherever you were. She would take you out, and you would wake up at a much worse place. Still, he felt a little reassured as he entered through the side entrance, hidden away in the dark.
It was 4.00 PM, as Marcus arrived at the fairground. He bought himself some popcorn and started roaming around. As a photographer, he wasn't interested in participating in any of the activities. As a photographer, Marcus was interested in people. Well, not of all kinds. He didn't have an eye for all the cheerful children all around him, enjoying the numerous attractions of the fair. No, as a photographer he was looking for a very specific subject. And experience had taught him, that this chosen time slot would provide him with the best opportunities.
It had taught him a lot more, too. Many years ago, when he first started hunting, he had hung around from the very first minutes up until closure time. He had had two cameras with him, and at first, people had been friendly, expecting him to make some kind of positive article about the fair. But over the hours the atmosphere had changed, and when he finally was caught redhanded, he was beaten up by a very angry husband.
She had always considered the arm spreader bar a joke. As a piece of bondage equipment, it seemed virtually useless. Strapped into it, there was almost nothing she couldn't do with her hands. Even when Steve used it to tie her arms behind her back, it would only take the whole of ten seconds to squeeze it over her butt and pull her legs through.
But this time, things were different, and Steve had been openly mocking her after slapping the damned thing onto her wrists.