A Dish Best Served Cold
Chapter 1

It had taken them three hours to get her out of the wreck. Three hours of sitting with, and in, the gore that had been her parents and little sister. She would never forget the smell of their blood, excrement and urine. She could taste the blood that had sprayed her when the huge Hummer had demolished the car, her family, and her life as she knew it.

From that moment on, everything would be different.

What was worse, was the fact that the person responsible for all of the new misery in her life, was sitting, unhurt, in the police car parked just a few feet from her. The man was obviously blind staggering drunk.

What was also obvious, was that the guy had to be incredibly wealthy. His lawyers, that's right, lawyers with an 's', had arrived almost before the cops. She knew right then that he would get off.

In America, it matters not if you are guilty or innocent. How much money you have determines if you are convicted of traffic violations... or anything else for that matter, including murder.

With all of the sirens, and the rushing around of the response people; it had taken some time before someone realized that the weak cries for help, were coming from inside the twisted pile of steel, that had once been her parents' car. It had been assumed that no one could have survived such an impact.

Though traumatized, she still had the presence of mind to insist that her backpack be brought with her, when they pulled her from the wreck and put her in the ambulance. She knew from experience that there would be great difficulty in proving that she was in graduate school, and was quite capable of independent living now that she was alone.

People just don't believe a thirteen year old can have a Master's Degree, let alone be working towards a Doctorate!

"Follow my finger, Honey. Can you tell me your name?" the EMT asked, as he moved the index finger of his right hand back and forth in front of her face.

"Yes. My name is Cam... Camilla Reilly."

"Good. How do you feel? Any pain?"

"Just a general soreness from the impact, and the few cuts from the broken glass. I expect that I might be going into mild shock, though, because I am getting quite cold."

The EMT blinked, surprised by the very adult and accurate recitation of the girl's condition.

"Wow! You must watch a lot of the discovery channel. That was a good observation of your condition for a kid," said the EMT in unintended condescension.

Cam closed her eyes in disgust as she thought, "It's starting already!"

"I'm not you average teenager. I have an I.Q. of 187, a Master's Degree in Computer Science. I am in Grad school at MIT. I am working toward my Doctorate. So please don't treat me like a child. I have just lost my entire family! I had to sit with their disemboweled and crushed bodies for three hours! I am covered in their blood! Why wouldn't I be experiencing mild shock?"

The EMT backed up and put up both hands in front of him, "Ok! I'm sorry, Miss."

"Look, could you do me a really big favor? Please make note of my... ahh... level of cognitive thought, so I don't have to suffer being treated as a small child by everyone, along with all... the rest of this," Cam said with a tired wave of her hand.

"Sure. Sure," said the EMT as he moved away.

She wasn't sure how much longer she could hold it together; but she knew instinctively, that crying now would only exacerbate the problem of her being treated with condescension. The crying could come later, when she was alone.

As a police officer approached her, the EMT stopped him.

"Look, this girl is a fucking genius! Don't talk to her like she's a kid. It will only piss her off, and I don't want her upset any more than she is. She is obviously holding everything in, right now. Treat her wrong, and she just might come apart. Ok?"

"Really? A genius, huh. Ok, I will be careful."

"Yeah, she's a Grad student at MIT."

"Wow! Look at her! She must be all of twelve or thirteen, same as my daughter."

Cam was relieved by the deference that she was shown after her talk to the EMT. He must have run around telling everyone about her. She was very thankful.

The police officer had asked for her name and such, and then got down to business, asking about what she had seen. Cam explained that the Hummer driver had run a red light at a high speed, hitting her family's car.

Swept with a wave of despair and exhaustion Cam said, "Why are you even bothering with this? We both know that the rich drunk is going to get off. His lawyers will probably even find some way to pin the crash on my Dad. This is all just a bunch of crap.

"Detective will you get me to a phone so that I can call Jack Gunn, my Dad's partner. He is all that I have left, now."

The Detective handed Cam his cell phone. Cam made her call and explained what had happened. Jack said that he would be there as soon as humanly possible.

"Excuse me, Detective, but we have to go now. The Docs are going to check her out. You can continue your questioning at St. Joseph Hospital."

With that, the EMT closed the doors to the ambulance.

"Hold it together... Hold it together... Hold it together..." thought Cam, the phrase was her new mantra.

She was sick of sitting with nothing but this ridiculous hospital gown on, while a steady stream of strangers poked and prodded her. Suddenly she became aware of a woman talking on her cell phone, it chilled Cam to the bone.

"... that's right, thirteen, Irish/Native American. Yeah, red hair. What? No, she hasn't started to develop yet. Just use the information that I gave you for the judge to do the writ. Look! Damn it! I need the writ to get her out of here, tonight, while everything is still confused. If we wait until the Docs release her, the real Social Worker will show up, and there will be too much of a problem. Just do it! No. If she gets too unruly I'll have her given a shot. Good. Bye."

A fat, ugly woman in her fifties entered the curtained ER exam area, closing a cell phone.

"Hello, Sweetie, I'm Julia Banks. I am going to be your Social Worker. I'm told that you have no family besides your Parents and sister. Is that right?"

"Don't say anything. Make her think that you are a scared kid. Well, hell, I am scared. Scared to death. Where the hell is Jack?" thought Cam.

Julia looked around and found Cam's clothes.

"Here. Put your things on. We will get you out of this place, and into a nice foster home for the night."

This gave Cam some relief. At least she wouldn't be naked, when she took this fat pig of a kidnapper out.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" asked the attending ER nurse.

"I'm from Child Services, they sent me to pick up this child."

"Not tonight. She is to be admitted for observation. She may have a concussion, and we need to check her out."

"Look, nurse, I am only doing what I was told to do. I was told to come here, and get this child ready. The release papers are to be delivered by messenger from Judge Howell. So you see, this child is leaving, tonight."

"I'm getting the Doctor," said the nurse, as she turned sharply and left the exam room.

Cam had been dressing during this exchange between the two adults. A plan of escape had formed in her fertile mind. A plan that included the destruction of this evil woman. She had also come to the decision that, without her parents, she would be at the mercy of the system. Said system was totally broken. Besides she was totally capable of taking care of herself.

Cam waited for an opportunity to attack this horrible woman.

The opening came, when the woman moved far enough away. Cam launched herself into a high kick, which caught the unsuspecting woman on the chin. The force of the kick snapped her head back, and she dropped like a stone.

Cam grabbed her backpack and the woman's purse, and walked out into the night, unchallenged.

"What do you mean she's gone? Gone where?" This is a hospital! You people are supposed to care for people, NOT loose them!" yelled Jack Gunn, beside himself with rage and worry.

It had been several hours since Cam had strolled out the front door of the hospital.

"She was with the Social Worker," the ER nurse said.

"And just what Social Worker would that be?" said a tall graceful black woman in her thirties.

"Who the hell are you?" asked the harried and frightened nurse.

"Why, I just happen to be the Social Worker that is ASSIGNED to this case."

The nurse nearly fainted as she realized that the other woman had been an imposter, and that the child must surely be a kidnap victim.

Jack stood rooted in place and unable to utter a word. He was terrified for his partner's daughter, the daughter who was also his student and friend. Unable to have children of his own, Jack had invested all of the love that his huge heart could hold, in teaching the remarkable child all that he knew.

Jack had been a Special Ops Sniper during Viet Nam. A Native American, Jack had retained all of the skills of the 'old way', as well as those of the modern day martial artist. From a very young age, his partner's little girl had craved to learn all that Jack could teach. By the age of seven she could track and hunt with the best of the Grandfathers of the tribe. Now, at thirteen, the girl was at least at a Black Belt level, in several of the fighting arts.

Jack's heart swelled with pride as he thought of the amazing child with the incredible brain. There was no way that she had been kidnapped. More than likely, she had fled a system that would put her in foster care for years. They would never recognize that she was a special case.

After saying angrily, "I can't take this, I'm going to sit over there and wait for you fucking idiots to figure out what has happened and to do something. If I don't get satisfaction in a very short time I will call my lawyers, and every paper in the country!" Jack strode away from the growing conflagration that was the Hospital, Child Services, and the Police. They were all pointing fingers and blame.

Before Jack got two steps, an old, red nosed cop said, "Look, Tonto! You ain't got no business here! You ain't family, so take a hike!"

"Oh? Really? Let me educate this poor ignorant excuse for a policeman. The minute that the parents of that child died, I became her legal guardian! Me, the poor savage! Here are the papers to prove it, you fat bigot!

"And though you might think that this red man is a poor alcoholic, and indigent; let me tell you that our company is worth fifty million, give or take. Our company makes those special radios that you have in your hand. So if you want to go toe to toe, I will be happy to take you on," Jack yelled at the top of his lungs, right in the face of the bigoted cop.

The cop staggered back under the force of Jack's verbal attack. As he was about to say something stupid, the cop was interrupted by a Detective Sergeant.

"That will be all, Officer. I'll take it from here."

With a fierce glare at Jack, the cop said, "Yes, Sir."

The bigoted cop walked away, wishing that he could just shoot the 'redskin'.

"Maybe I should call Barry at the Arian Brigade. We could give that Mudman a good beat down," thought the cop.

"Hello. I'm Detective Sergeant Erickson. Now, sir, what is the problem?"

"These people have lost my ward. She is thirteen years old with red hair. Her family was in an automobile accident, she is the only survivor," Jack said.

"Wait! How can she be your ward if she had family?"

Jack just handed the Detective the guardianship papers, rather than try to explain things. The Policeman started to walk away with the papers and Jack stopped him, "Where are you going with my papers?"

"To the copy machine. Having a copy of these will make things easier all around."

"Ok, but I'm coming with you. Those papers are not leaving my sight."

"Fine with me," said the Detective and then as he looked at the other two he continued, "Nurse? As of this minute, you are off duty, until I am able to get all of the information that I need. Please tell your supervisor."

Looking at the tall black woman the Detective raised his left eyebrow and asked, "You're Mrs... Armandala? Mrs. Ariziki Armandala, from Child Services, right?"

"Very good, Detective!" she said with a big, beautiful smile.

"Will you please stay until we can talk?"

"Of course, Detective," she said with a small bow.

The Detective turned and walked with Jack to the nurse's station and made the needed copies, saying, "What a woman! If she weren't married I would definitely ask her out."

Jack's cell phone started buzzing, "Hello?"

"Windwalker? It's me. Can you talk?" Cam's voice asked, using Jack's tribal name.

"Hold on," Jack said, as he turned to the Detective, and reached for his original papers. "I really need to take this call. Do you mind?"

"Not at all. I can start with the nurse, first."

"Thanks," said Jack as he walked to a more private place.


"It's Raven," Cam said, using her tribal name.

"Are you all right? Where are you?"

"Look, Windwalker, just let me talk, ok?"


"First, in Dad's safe, are all of my patents and my papers. There are, also, emergency papers... Powers of attorney and such, placing you in control. Those papers will let you keep the business going with out my having to sign anything.

"You will need to buy one of those throwaway cell phones, and call the number that I faxed earlier, when you get to the house. I'll then give you the combination to the safe. Next, be sure to document all of your time, from now on. You will need to have an alibi."

"But why..."

"Please, just listen! The authorities are going to suspect you arranged the death of my family, so that you could gain full control of the company. Before you go nuts, I know you. I know that nothing could be further from the truth. I know it was that fat drunk that killed my family. However, there are no mental giants in civil service that I am aware of. The closer to the victim a person is, the more the authorities will suspect that person. So be very careful, this isn't like Desert Storm. Our enemies are inside, as well as outside of the company.

"Now, I had a close call tonight, and I don't mean the crash. Some one tried to abduct me. I think it was a pedophile ring, rather than industrial espionage. But I'm not ruling anything out, at the moment. Because of all of this, I'm dropping out for a while. Don't ask how long. I don't know myself.

"I need you to go to my private lab, the one in the safe room, under my regular lab. I need you to get some things for me. I have already faxed a list, there. Express mail them to the Durham, NH house that I stayed at, when I was at UNH. George will receive the package for me.

"The schools are closing for the summer, so all of the kids are scattering. I will catch a ride with some random students from the ride board. I'm 'going native', as they say. So don't worry, you taught me well. The Grandfathers would be proud. I will call again," said Cam as she broke the connection.

Cam closed the cell and walked into the student lounge of BU. She had picked this school because she wasn't known here. With a fresh cup of black coffee (none of that yuppie affectation of flavored stuff, for her), she strolled over to the 'ride board', and put up an announcement:

<Looking for a ride to the Moosehead Lake area of Maine. Will pay all expenses and provide meals. Wish to leave tonight. Applicants please meet me at the fireplace.>

All she could do now, was wait and pray that people would take her seriously.

Cam sat in front of the fireplace, silently praying to Wolverine to be her guide. Wolverine represents the spirit of aggression. He was just the thing she needed in this fight for her life!

Cam hoped that dressing as a boy, and stuffing her flaming red hair into a baseball cap, would help her to avoid the authorities.

After many false starts, a slim girl approached. She looked around, appearing crestfallen and almost desperate.

Cam asked, "Are you looking for the person needing a lift to Moosehead?"


"Well, you found him."

Surprised she asked, "Aren't you a little young to be doing this alone?"

"I may be young, but I'm very smart. I'm a senior at BC. I want to get home, but nobody from my school is headed that way. So, I thought that I would try my luck here. Do you want the money or not?"

The girl thought for a moment, and then said, "Ok, but I need an extra fifty above costs and meals."

"Fine. When do we leave?"

"Right now. Where's your gear?"

"Right here. I just have my backpack."

"Cool! Let's travel"

As Jack walked from the Hospital, he knew that something was not right. He paused beneath one of the bright lights in the parking garage. Centering himself, he called forth his 'Sudden Knife' mode. As his mind settled from the turmoil of the loss of his friends, and the bolting of their surviving daughter; his senses sharpened. He became the assassin from his past life.

It felt like there were four or five of them. Not an unmanageable number, as long as they didn't plan to shoot him. But then, if they wanted to shoot, it would take just one, or at most, two. He was safe from firearms, then. Good.

As Jack walked to his car, he readied himself for the attack, by thinking how he would do it.

They came at him in the darkest part of the garage, all wearing ski masks. The baseball bats they brandished gave Jack pause, but only for a split second.

It was over before it got started! Jack had bruised ribs. The attackers, on the other hand, were all out for the count. They had broken knees, elbows... and, just for the fun of it, smashed teeth and jaws. Nothing like having one's jaws wired shut, to give one time to think. Baseball bats can really save your hands!

After checking that he had not left any evidence of his identity; Jack calmly climbed into his car, and drove off to do the errands that Raven had entrusted to him.

Edited by TeNderLoin

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