Gerry's extra staff start arriving about 10:00 a.m. Wendy Paul is first to arrive, followed around 10:30 a.m. by Daniel Jackson and Anna (his sixteen year old sister is going with him). 11:15 a.m. sees the arrival of Felicity and Brenda Waters with Albert Jones ten minutes later. Gerry greets them when they arrive and introduces them to everyone. He has his 'Gopher Gang, ' as he calls it, set up in the Port Hull cabins. Each has their own cabin. Patrick and Shauna have the two rooms nearest the lounge, Daniel and his Anna have the next two, Felicity and Brenda the next two, with Wendy and Albert having the next two.
With everybody now aboard Sea Dream sets sail for England just after lunch. That afternoon Gerry sends Shauna and Anna to find Gina and talk to her, because they've been getting on well together. Gathering the hackers together in the No. 2 Lounge located in the port hull, he says, "You're all top notch hackers. I've no intention of telling each one of you what the others' on-line names are. If you want anyone to know, you tell them yourselves. I'm still recruiting for the team and have two more to see in Europe. Wendy Paul here is going to be the team leader because she's had a lot of experience as the leader of a group of computer experts. I stole her from the FBI, so you may want to very carefully consider any bragging you do." He hands out some folders, saying, "This is a brief of what I'll be wanting you to do. Over the next few days I'd like you all, individually and collectively, to review the contents of these folders. After that I'll want lists of hardware and software you want. Don't let money worry you. I already have three new Cray super computers for the team. Regardless of how long this first project lasts I'll employ you for a minimum of five years. I'd like to keep you all on the payroll long after that, but will understand if any of you wish to move on. I'll leave you all to get better acquainted with each other." Turning around, he leaves the room.
Although capable of going a lot faster Sea Dream cruises across the Atlantic to arrive in Liverpool in ten days. Everyone has a good time sunbathing and fishing during the day, with games and TV at night. Having all meals cooked by world class chefs doesn't hurt, either. Two work on Sea Dream, sharing the duties. Gerry hired two; he figured they'd compete against each other, and is very happy to be proven right. Neither is complacent about what they cook. All the meals are top quality, while they vie with each other to make their consumers happy. Something all the consumers are very appreciative of, and say so.
Mid-morning the second Monday after leaving New York they arrive in Liverpool. After checking through customs Sea Dream leaves for another anchorage on the Thames in London, one more suitable for their needs. Liverpool is mainly for international freight and cruise ships. Gerry makes initial docking here to process through customs and meet a local agent. While the yacht and everyone else heads South for London by sea, stopping at other ports on the way, he heads into the city of Liverpool without any bodyguards; no one here knows him.
In a part of the city that's little more than a sea of council houses he knocks on the door of a two story house. It's one of two dozen that butt up to each other in this block, and the whole street is the same. The small front yard is in need of work and the woodwork needs painting. A voice answers the knock, yelling, "It's unlocked, come in." He enters the building, the carpets are old and well worn, almost non-existent in places, the walls need new paint, and the woodwork needs varnishing. The voice, an old woman's, calls out, "Straight down the hall, second door on the left."
Entering the room he sees it's like the rest of the house - old, worn out, but neat and tidy. The same can be said of the old woman sitting in a worn out comfortable chair. The padding is worn and the cover is a style popular between the two world wars. The woman says, "Oh, you don't look like the council maintenance man. I've been expecting him for over a week."
Smiling, he says, "No, I'm not. What's the problem?"
She waves towards the back of the house, saying, "The hot water system don't work."
He says, "Excuse me a moment, I'll be right back." Leaving the room he goes to the front door and waves his agent over. He gives him some instructions, and goes back into the house. The agent walks back to the car while he makes a call on his mobile phone.
Back with the old woman, Gerry says, "Sorry if I'm disturbing you, Missus Jones, I wish to speak to your grandson about some work. I've just sent my man to organise a plumber to look at your hot water system and to get us some lunch."
She gives him a calculating look, nods slowly, and says, "Owen was called into work unexpectedly this morning. It's his day off and they need him until lunchtime. I expect him back in about thirty minutes. You do know I can't pay for a proper plumber."
He nods, "I do know you can't, but I can. While I wait for Owen will you be very candid with me and tell me what sort of a person he is. Does he help people or hurt them? The reports I've had are conflicting. The police check is a bit disturbing, so is his school behaviour record. They indicate some violence while personal reports say otherwise."
She stares at him for a few minutes, before saying, "Yes, he can be, and has been, violent. But usually in defence of others who can't defend themselves. He helps me and he helped Missus Smithers down the road until she passed on two months back. She could hardly walk, so he got her shopping each week and put it away for her. Until he got this job at the computer shop he used to make money looking after everyone's lawns. When he got accepted for the job he arranged for another local lad to mow them for the same price."
He smiles, "Well, that helps a bit. If he takes my job offer he'll be moving far away. You may wish to consider moving with him because you've no other close relatives left. The job's in a tropical area on the other side of the world, a nice sea port with fishing and tourism. The climate's warm most of the time. The contract includes housing. You can live with him or nearby with some other retired people."
She sits there looking at him while she thinks. About ten minutes later a plumber walks in the door and is soon sent out the back to check the heater. A few minutes later he's back to his van for the parts. It's a simple job, drain the tank and replace the element. He's just finishing when Gerry's agent returns with some nicely cooked John Dory and chips. The four of them have just started eating when Owen arrives and joins them. They're fast to finish the meal. The plumber checks the work, because he had to wait for the tank to fill, and heads to his next job. The agent leaves with him to pay him when they go out. Owen is eyeing Gerry in a very suspicious manner.
Gerry looks at him, "Owen, I'm considering employing you at some high paid computing work, but I need some answers to some questions first. In the last four years have you ever stolen anything, if so, why?"
Owen looks at him and his grandmother nods for him to answer. He says, "Yes, three years ago. I was working at the grocery shop. He fired me to employ his niece who just moved to the city. He claimed I was slack and withheld three days' pay. I took the pay out in stock before I left that day. He never even noticed. Last year a new neighbour broke Missus Wellings' front door lock. I swiped his and changed them over." Smiling, Gerry nods and hands him the employment contract to read. His eyes go wide at the pay and terms, because it's more than he'd ever dreamed of earning because of his low level of education. He hands the contract to his grandmother. He says, "That's very good pay, why me?"
"I'm putting together a team of the top computer programmers and hackers in the world. Mersey Man rates in the top ten, don't you?" Owen is very surprised to have been found out.
Mrs Jones says, "I told you to stop doing that computer stuff."
Owen replies, "I don't do any harm and it's fun. Anyway, it looks like something good is coming out of it."
Gerry hands over a card with an address in London, plus two hundred pounds cash, saying, "Be at this address by ten a.m. Thursday if you want the job. You can bring your grandmother as well, if she wants to go. Get yourselves passports and I'll organise the visas."
He leaves them to think it over. He returns to the car and gets in. They head for the train station where he's to catch a train to London.
While he's waiting for the train he notices a woman in her late twenties with four small children and two suit cases. He offers to carry the bags while she sorts out the children. Sitting on the platform they've about ten minutes to wait, and the children are very active. Grinning, Gerry gets up and goes to the shop. He buys a few bags of lollies and six drinks. Returning to the seat beside the woman he calls the children to him. He hands them a drink each and makes them sit while they drink it. He gives the woman one and has the sixth himself.
The train arrives and he helps her get aboard. They're both headed to London, so they share a compartment. About twenty minutes later, when the children get restless and want to wander about, he pulls out a packet of lollies and studies the bag as if trying to work out how to get the lollies out. The eldest child, a ten year old girl, asks, "What's t'matter mista? Don't cha know how t'open t'em?"
.... There is more of this story ...