Alaskan Silver Discovering Home

img_3860-1
The symphony was playing Beethoven’s ninth, as Pin looked over at his wife. Of course, he didn’t go by that any more. Now he was once again Patrick Wade London, and no longer hunted. All of that ended five and a half years ago, with the tumbling of Edwin Wynton Strand.

His mind went back to the memory of those few days. Monopole, the mystery brother, convinced everyone that Edward and all of them planned the shooting. They were taken into custody, leaving Monopole free to search for the shooter.

Edward reached out to his Uncle, and the best lawyer in the capital argued for their release. They were out of jail, but still under suspicion, a few hours later. Pin knew, the only way to rescue them all, was to expose Strand.

Harriet was working on that. Artemis was tied up in his hotel room. The man had been shaving when, he thought, the maid came in. His Aunt’s hotel was the only place he felt secure enough to not use his security constantly. Harriet had learned more about him by going through St Louis’ notes.

Since it was based on a code they used as children, it was easy. Harriet felt, of the three, Artemis would be the easiest to get the information from. St Louis had pieced a lot of things together. Her plan wasn’t revenge, but justice.

She knew that, only by bringing down the Strand-Piper family, would they be safe. After securing both Artemis, and the information, she went to work. He was still recovering from being hit over the head, as well as a bloody nose.

Next was the shooting, this would bring unwanted attention to Edwin and Minerva, Monopole was last. Although she didn’t know the exact link, St Louis had discovered ties between him and Minerva. This meant he was dangerous, but how do you stop a high ranking military officer?

Simple, you let him stop himself. Harriet reasoned that his first move would be to arrest Edward and the others. She had seen them when she positioned herself, and put the rest of the plan together. While Monopole was busy trying to take them down, she would fuel his anger, until he exploded. She sent a note to Estelle, to give to Pin.
It told him to push Monopole as much as they could, and she would do her part. The politician in Lafayette kicked in. Between him and Edward’s Uncle, they got in to see their prey. Pin knew, threatening him wouldn’t work, he was a military man.

Discipline would prevent him from reacting, he had to find another way of getting him angry enough. After learning from Ralph, that Minerva was the lynch pin, Pin knew the key. He hated to do it, but it was the only way.

“Just because some old relic in a hotel gets wounded, you’d think we fired in the President. We didn’t hit her, or Strand. Besides, let the police tend to it. Why is the military involved? Strand isn’t even an elected official, and this woman is nothing more than a forgotten aspect of the past.”

That did it. Monopole lunged at Pin, right in front of the man who had arranged the meeting. A close personal friend of Edward’s Uncle, the President. He couldn’t show favoritism and choose sides in a party fight, but could grant his friend a favor.

Pin ducked, swung, and ducked again. It was a quick, but intense fight, ending with Monopole on the floor. He grabbed Monopole’s wallet at a guess, and was right. The lady’s picture, much younger, with an even younger Monopole beside her, was inside.

This proved they were connected. The package that Monopole had confiscated with the needed proof against Strand, was found in his desk. The President allowed them to search it, once he saw the picture. Finally, Thorn Piper’s plan was exposed to the world.

He had bought up land across Alaska, and the United States, controlling prime real estate. Thorn had built not one, but three armies. A criminal organization, eventually ran by Artemis. A political machine, secured by Minerva through her puppets, and then her heir apparent, Edwin Wynton.

Last, was the military mind of Monopole, who could maneuver the leaders of the armed forces.
This way, no matter who was elected, they controlled land, both parties, and could silence everyone who opposed them. It was a variation on the rumored Aaron Burr conspiracy that had almost worked. Had it not been for a woman who’s husband was in the hospital, and a man who knew men cherish their mothers.

As the symphony reached a climax, Pin remembered something else. The first time, since it all began, that he saw his Mother and Father. They were glad that, in stopping Strand, he had taken down those who planned to kill him. Now they could see their son, and meet his new bride.

Proud Grandparents, of four years, they doted upon the triplets. Alaskan weather, and other business kept them in New York for the last few years. The boys were big enough now, and Pin missed their pack. The wolves we’re with the Lafayettes, the city wasn’t conducive for them. Pin and Estelle longed to see them, and Alaska. Tomorrow they, a recovered, retired St Louis, Harriet, and little Alicia would board a boat for home.

Pin was going back to overseeing the small town’s police force. St Louis, this time for real, was opening a place. He would supply the music, and Harriet would supply the food. She had insisted he give up the dangers of undercover work, with the compromise of being a part time Alaskan policeman when Pin needed him.

It was Edward, after his Uncle’s return to party leader, that became advisor to the President. He left that after awhile, when offered the opportunity to return to curating, in the territorial capital of Alaska. Edward was meeting them the next morning to sail for a quieter life.

Carl’s influence in Alaskan politics continued to grow. The group would have many more adventures together. As for the Strands, they had an adventure all their own.

Monopole was stripped of his rank, and convicted of treason. He, and his brothers had cells side by side. As for Minerva, she had disappeared. No one knew what had happened to the old woman. Every so often, the brothers would get a cryptic letter, which their jailers examined very closely.

Ralph’s sentence was light, after turning state’s evidence, and was out after a year. He returned to the circus, minus the jailed flying Lewzinstra. With Minerva still alive, he was taking no chances. Ralph felt more safe near the lion’s cage, than anywhere else on Earth. Francois, who now ran the circus, helped watch for her as well.

That was another reason Pin was taking his family to Alaska. It would be much harder for Minerva Piper to do anything to them there, between the weather, and their wolves. The biggest reason was he missed the frontier, they both longed for the rugged landscape.

The Good Book said there is a vein for silver, and a place to refine gold. Alaska was the place for the “Silvers”, and a good area to raise and refine young boys. It was time to go home, for the “Alaskan Silvers”.

Alaskan Silver Surprised 


They just stared at each other for a moment, calculating the other’s possible moves. Strand had walked out, his security around him. Edward spoke first. “Why does somebody with as many arms as you have in everything suddenly need security?”

First a laugh, then a small barely detectable sneer, masked by another smile was the response. Instead of answering, Strand addressed Mayor Lafayette. “I suppose this means our association is at an end Mayor. I did have such illustrious plans for your eventual demise, now they’ll have to be accelerated.”

Carl was enough of a politician to control hisself enough not to do what he wanted. His first idea had been to hit him in the face with the handle of his gun. Pin had been silent, watching every movement, and listening to each word, but also doing something else.  

He knew Strand, even if it was a deceitful version. He knew one thing about him. Strand acted when he was confident of the outcome, and he hadn’t moved. That either meant he was totally at a loss for what to do next, or he was trying to come up with a new plan.  

The longer they waited, the more advantage it gave Strand. Pin signaled to Edward to wrap it up quickly. They had discussed the gestures beforehand, so Edward spoke almost immediately. “Everything I know about you, and all Ralph here knows about you, is in a package with the Secret Service. You’re plans are ruined, stand down, and come with us.”

Strand’s laugh this time was genuine. “Is that your plan? I knew about that package a half hour ago. It was never opened, the military confiscated it, and officially, the contents show how corrupt members of Alaska’s local governments are, including one Carl Lafayette. Edward, I’m not worried about you stopping my plans, I thought you were hear to kill me.”

“I’m not a murderer Strand.” “Well, that’s too bad, Strands are. I won’t kill you now, it would be too messy, and too quickly. I want each of you to suffer slow, and painful deaths. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with the President. He wants to speak to the advisor that his new party chairman so highly recommended.”

It was then that the shot rang out, and Strand went down. The security team pulled their weapons, but it was evident, the shots hadn’t been from Edward’s group. Four bullets were fired, two hit Strand, one in each knee. One broke the glass of a high window of the Adams hotel. The fourth had hit the man beside of Strand in his shoulder.  

The police would find out later, where the shot had come from, and what type of bullet was used. Edward could guess about those things, but instantly he knew who the shooter must have been, Harriet. She was smart, she was talented, and she was angry.

Strand wasn’t dead, but at best, he would walk with canes the rest of his life. The man beside of Strand, had been the one who had shot St Louis. The bullet was just far enough from his heart to be extracted. Harriet was not a murderer, this was her only way of being sure to expose them.

The police wouldn’t stop at who shot them, they would want to know why. Those were questions Strand had to answer for, including why his elderly Aunt, had been shot in the leg as well. Harriet had been investigating herself, or rather interrogating her prisoner in the hotel earlier that day, one Artemis Strand.


Look for next week’s exciting conclusion to Alaskan Silver!

Alaskan Silver The Park


Edward Mallory sat on a park bench. Those who knew him felt sorry for him, although they couldn’t risk admitting it. At least not now, after what had happened. Edward had been up against two of the shrewdest operators in the country, three if you count the ghost of Thorn Piper.  

He knew it all now, or at least, believed that he did. It seemed they always had another card to play. He asked himself if he should have tried at all, but then, he knew the answer to that.

His Uncle had taught him that, while politics is a hard life, if your ethics and motives dictated your methods, you would be in the right. Now his Uncle was at home in his bed clothes, having not left the house for two days.  

Apparently, one of Minerva’s meetings orchestrated his Uncle being removed from the position of party leader, in favor of one of her operatives. Edward’s hero had lost his job because of him.  

Worse than that, Pin had been beaten up, and St Louis’ cover had been exposed. He was laying in a hospital bed, clinging to life. Thy had gotten the bullets out, but only time would let them know if he would pull through.

At least Harriet was safe, Edward knew at least part of what her plans were. St Louis hadn’t revealed that she was still alive until they had gotten back to Washington. An only then, because he discovered how entrenched Strand was.

St Louis felt Edward was her only protection. Staying with the Mallory family had probably kept her from being shot that morning. They got him a few feet from his home, hitting him twice. One bullet lodged in his chest, and one in his shoulder.  

Mallory couldn’t forget the look in her eyes when he told her. First, fear for her husband, then anger at his assailants, and determination to bring anyone involved to justice. Harriet calmly loaded her gun, disguised herself, and left.

Edward tried, but knew after the tortured, calm look on her face, it was useless. She had suppressed her pain to do her duty. His only fear was her methods, did she have justice, or vengeance in mind?

He didn’t know, and didn’t know, still questioning his own motives. The people that knew him assumed he was feeling sorry for himself in the park. They would have been wrong. Edward wasn’t there out of self pity, no more than his Uncle was depressed.

His Uncle hadn’t changed out of his bed clothes because he was too busy, not having the time to do it. He was spending all of it pulling strings, trying to take his party back. Once Edward knew his hero had decided to fight, he put together a plan of his own.  

Edward was in the park, waiting to meet with his rival. The Adams Hotel was right across from it, and he was going to see Edwin Strand. Edward wasn’t stupid enough to face him on Edwin’s turf, that would have been suicide. He would take the same tactic, minus the gun, that St Louis’ would be killers had.

Strand’s men would try to prevent him from talking, but he had backup. A mayor with a revolver, a policeman with two side arms, and a fugitive with a pistol. The park was busy, even this early, so they fit right in, their weapons concealed until needed. 

Edward was about to push his enemy and see how well he liked it. There was no more time for games, this was war. Edwin Strand had intentions of conquering Alaska, and America, now a few of her sons were ready to share their opinions.  

Alaskan Silver Wolf Rescue


The meeting had been coming for a long time. One was glad it was finally happening, the other, didn’t care for the timing. He was sat in a chair, and tied up, under the threat of a gun. Only it wasn’t Ralph Hearns, it was Pin, and he wasn’t in great condition just now.

His face and body had been beaten, and now, he was looking at one of the men he had sacrificed his future to put away. “Why here cop, why now?” “If I knew I’d be meeting you here, I would have brought a friend or two.” “Pals with bullets no doubt.” “No, teeth.”

A few hours earlier, when Pin saw Ralph Hearns, there was a third man in the shadows. The High Flying Lewzinstra saw the chase. Just after Pin had caught Ralph, he hit him from behind. Lewzinstra’s real purpose exposed, he gave Ralph a choice. Help him and live, or die right there.

Now Ralph, feeling it impossible to escape again, reluctantly went along with the plan. Lewzinstra called in Minerva’s men, and she sent an old acquaintance of Pin’s former life to see him. She wanted to know what Pin knew before he died.

Pin refused to talk one way or the other. They weren’t sure if he knew anything, or if he was just trying to stay ahead of them. They couldn’t kill him until they knew how much, if any, of Minerva’s plot he knew. What they didn’t know was, that Pin had a third option. 

When her new husband didn’t return from walking, Estelle got scared. She started to go for help, but then realized that her best help was already with them. Estelle went straight to the wolves, and Francois.  They reasoned it had to be someone in the circus, some enemy they didn’t know about. So the wolves began to search for the leader of their pack.

When it happened, it was quick. The wolves burst through the tent, teeth exposed, attacking every threat they saw. Francois fired a shot at Lewzinstra to disarm him. Estelle pointed Pin’s rifle right at the head of the man she had just seen hit her husband.

“Ok, ok, call these monsters off!” Pin looked at his wife grinning. “They’re not monsters, their family, but they’re not your biggest problem right now. If you don’t want my Bride to shoot you, I suggest you come around here and untie me, fast!” The man complied, and Pin thanked him by knocking him out squarely on the jaw.

Ralph Hearns hadn’t resisted the wolves when cornered. He at least knew their motives, nor had he attacked Pin. Ralph was glad they had rescued the policeman, and was ready to stop running. Whatever it took, whatever he had to face, he was ready to stand up and expose Minerva and Edwin Wynton Strand!

Alaskan Silver Thorns

It’s at this point in our story that we must  pause the events of Pin, St Louis, and the Strands, to introduce you to the reason for the conflict, Frederick Thorn Piper.  Appropriately labeled, he liked his middle name, it was what he went by to others.  

His Mother gave him a penchant for unusual names.  “Frederick, are you sure this trip is absolutely necessary?”  “Yes Mother. Alaska is a large place, there’s room there to build an empire.”  
Olivia Piper smiled at her son, knowing there was a bit of the rogue in him.  She also knew that of all her children, he was the smartest, and the strongest.  She had no doubt he would become a wealthy man, her concern was the tactics he would use.

Her fears were well founded, as Thorn was as rough as the part of Alaska he settled in.  While others dreamed of mining gold, he took it out of people.  One of his enterprises was tricking discouraged claim holders to sell him their claims at little or no cost.  

This was in edition to robbery, blackmail, and manipulating elections.  It was always at a distance though, he had learned from his hero’s mistake.  You might say the entire Strand history can be traced back to the thread of Aaron Burr.

For those not familiar, the former Vice President was accused of treason for attempting to turn part of the unsettled areas of our young country into his own kingdom.  While Burr survived the court case, his reputation was severely damaged.  This lesson taught Thorn to plan for others to do his dirty work.

As he grew more successful, Thorn also grew more greedy.   It was then that he devised his master plan.  One that would outlive him of course, he knew that, but he would be the founder.  His memory would live on, and that fed his arrogance.

It was this pride that led him to manipulate his own family into positions which would secure his scheme.  He picked his daughter’s husbands, allowed families to be separated, and passed on every aspect of his personality possible to his heirs.

This pride is why the Strands found themselves at a reunion in Minerva’s suite.  Ironically enough, the crime network Pin had risked his life, and sacrificed his future to destroy, had been founded by another of Piper’s protégés. A criminal network very much alive, and hoping for the opportunity to get its revenge on a certain policeman.  

Pin didn’t know all of this, but he did know that our nation’s capital was a lot closer to New York than Alaska.  So his new Bride, the wolves, and he were staying with Francois on the outskirts of town.  Soon, the couple would meet every member of the big top.

It was on a late night walk that Pin broke into a run.  The man had seen him too, and was running fast.  Pin was faster, and caught Ralph Hearns easily.  “I didn’t expect to see you here Ralph.  Let’s talk!”

Find out next week what their conversation holds, as well as the Thorn’s plan, in Alaskan Silver.

Alaskan Silver Mother Aunt

He dressed quickly and methodically, just as Ulysses did everything else. He was the first, though only by fifteen minutes, the other two didn’t know that. They couldn’t, it was part of Grandfather’s plan.

He had sacrificed much for this scheme, still he had been happy. Ulysses Zade Monopole was his name to outsiders, but he was a Strand. The firstborn of twins, however he and Artemis didn’t look alike.

His mind drifted back to Mother’s story, Aunt Minerva, was there at the beginning. Carla Elise Strand had three sons, Ulysses Zade Strand, Artemis Xavier Strand, and Edwin Wynton Strand. They were given unusual names on purpose, to instill the Piper pride in them.

Oliver Strand never knew he had three boys, only the two last ones. The doctor had said there would be only one, and the sisters felt he didn’t need to be informed. Carla asked Minerva to raise Ulysses, knowing that it was the only way to protect him from a mad man. That of course wasn’t the reason she had told Grandfather and Mother. He didn’t learn this version until he was twenty.

By then, Ulysses had formed his own opinion of the Grandfather that everyone else idolized. Mother, or as they called her, Aunt Minerva, had been good to him, giving him everything that he had wanted or needed. She wasn’t able to have children of her own, so she loved being a Mother to him.

Still, it pained him to watch his brothers from a distance, never being able to share their lives. He was raised as a Monopole, Mother’s first husband, she had taken the maiden name back upon his death. The finest schools, the military, and now his current position all were part of the Piper grand plan.

He smiled at himself in the mirror, he still cut a dashing figure. The uniform fit him well, and he enjoyed the job. Ulysses would enjoy more, his new position, the one he had been promised for going along with the arrogant scheme. It would be his reward for a life of illusion and misdirection.  

Edwin Wynton would get the position of Machiavelli, the power behind a throne. Artemis Xavier would be the head of an international criminal network, making things possible that Edwin Wynton needed accomplished. Ulysses Zade would be the last piece, the head of the military arm. Between the three, they would rule the country, secure Grandfather’s treasure, and begin a dynasty.

Mother had left specific instructions, he was to enter the room at precisely 12:34. No sooner, and no later, it was a flare dramatic, but so was she. Every Piper was, he knew he had inherited the Piper arrogance too, it had kept him alive as a prisoner.  

Now it would pave the way to their final success. He placed the hat on his head, adjusted his tie, and walked towards the suite. The last Strand was in place, and ready to meet his family. Then, to activate Grandfather’s plan, and forget him, finally, for good.

Alaskan Silver The Last Strand

Edwin Strand was not invited. It was Estelle’s one request, and one that Pin was happy to comply with. This wasn’t only because of his love for her, but of Pin’s suspicions. He now believed both her, and Edward Mallory’s opinion of Strand.

The couple, the wolves, Francois, Carl, and the recovering Mallory gathered for a simple wedding. Estelle, knowing the potential danger Edwin posed to anyone decent, decided to be married now. Even though this meant introducing her family to her husband, and not her fiancé. The Captain, Shamus Arlowe, an old hand at this, married them. As both a seafaring man, and a minister, he had performed his share of weddings.

Though, never on the lowest deck of the ship among wolves, and other animals. It was a small, yet beautiful ceremony. Estelle in a simple white dress she had bought in Alaska, not suspecting it would become her wedding dress. Pin in his dress uniform, he had planned for this.

The dress too had been bought at his insistence, knowing his intentions. Surprisingly the wolves behaved themselves. Something that could not be said of all the passengers, chiefly the Strand boys. Rarely ever together, due to Edwin’s political agenda, they enjoyed a shipboard reunion.

It was during this reunion that they discussed their plan. “Edwin, are you sure you can pull it off? Cousin Aaron tried it years ago.” “Cousin Aaron was stupid enough to murder a former Secretary Of The Treasury himself. That dear brother is why we employ assassins, like the clarinet player.”

“Grandfather and Aunt Minerva’s plan needed tweaking, which we’ve accomplished, now we act.” Artemis’ main question was about the location, he wasn’t sure about the logistics. As arrogant as Edwin was, he listened to his older brother. If there was one thing Artemis knew, it was murder, so Edwin considered a change of venue for his triumph.

St Louis and Harriet enjoyed a rare above deck stroll that night, after everyone was asleep. He wasn’t taking any chances on his bride’s safety. This was why Harriet wore a scarf and hat to conceal her appearance as much as possible. Each dreaming of the day when they could be assured of her having a normal life again.

As the ship drew closer to it’s destination, Ralph and the circus were making their way to Washington to meet Francois and his cargo. They were scheduled to perform for an event that would draw the nation’s leaders, maybe even the President himself. Ralph, and his friend the High Flying Lewzinstra discussed the possibility of performing for him.

All the while, Aunt Minerva sat like a spider in her web. Everyone was coming to her, the boys, the patsies, and the victims. She smiled as she looked out of her hotel window. The painting of her father, placed above the mantle of the suite, as she had requested.

When you own the hotel, you can do things like that. Minerva liked owning things, she had recently bought a circus, a menagerie, and something else, an opportunity. It had taken all of her markers to pay for it, but it was worth it. Her nephews would carry on her plan well, with her guidance of course.

“I wonder if it’s time to tell them the final detail? I’ve kept this part secret for so long, but it will not be much longer. Soon, our family will take its rightful place, and everyone else will regret how they’ve treated us.” She had a thought, then laughed at her play on words. “Soon, the last strand will be in place!”

Alaskan Silver Daydream

The conference had just ended, Edwin, the Mayor, and Pin were walking out along with the President of the United States and others. Suddenly two shots rang out, one hit the policeman, and the other wounded the Mayor. Edwin pulled Lafayette heroically down as the first bullet went off.

It would appear that his quick thinking saved his boss, even though it would all be carried out according to plan. It was Carl Lafayette that stirred Edwin from his daydream. They were in the dining car of the train that would take them to port, where they’d begin the boat trip to Washington.

“Edwin, you looked a million miles away. Thinking of a young lady like Pin is these days?” “No, just the future.” He smiled at both men, knowing he wouldn’t need them much longer.

Also on the train, was a recovering Edward Mallory, Estelle Reynolds, and Artemis Strand. This trip was to be a reunion of sorts. Edward would meet his Uncle, Estelle would see her Father and Sister, and the Strands would meet at the Hotel Adams for a celebration.

St Louis and his bride had already went on the ship, concealed for her safety. Artemis had brought Edwin’s special luggage along. In it were the private documents of Edwin Strand, including the gifts from his Grandfather, which would allow him to secure every wish he had.

Aunt Minerva waited in her suite. This new servant wasn’t as good as Ralph. She allowed herself a smile every time she thought of him. He had alluded her, it took very nearly sleeping with lions to do it, but he had.

Maybe she was getting soft, but she decided to allow him to live. Oh she could have had the circus burned down while he slept, but no. As long as he never left the circus he was no threat to her. Of course, if he did, then he’d be dead.

How was Ralph to know his friend the High Flying Lewzinstra was actually Mike Palchak, escaped racketeer. Palchak was instructed to allow Ralph to live unless he became dissatisfied with his new career. It was good to have friends in strange corners.

One of Aunt Minerva’s other friends had brought her triumph to the edge of reality. Now, she had to use patience, which was least among her weapons. All of the players would arrive soon enough, and there would be time to act. She was worried about one little thing, what if her man in the White House proved unreliable?

“Oh well, it would make things a little more complicated, but manageable. After all, they get replaced all the time. It would only mean one more bullet the day of the conference.”

A few days later, Pin and Estelle made their way to the lowest deck of the ship. “Funny, criminals think they’re the only ones who plan. Cops do too, we just don’t gloat over them. When I knew this trip was happening, I sent a telegram to an old friend, knowing his schedule.”

Francois greeted his friend, and his companion. Once inside, they said hello to some more of their friends. Estelle laughed happily. “You brought the wolves along?” “They’re family, they had to be here.” “What for?”

Pin looked at Francois, and he handed him the box. “Estelle, a policeman doesn’t make much money, fortunately for me, a friend of mine is the nephew of a jeweler. Because of him, I can pay this off over time.”

He dropped to his knee, and asked her to marry him. A kiss, and a few shared tears later, she said yes. Pin leaned over and whispered in her ear something he never thought he’d say, his real name. They would be married aboard ship, here with their friends, in a secret ceremony.

After the moment had passed, Estelle asked Francois what he would do in Washington. “Alas, my menagerie has succumbed to economic reality. We have joined, as much as I disdain to say it, a larger circus out of Florida. They will meet us in Washington for a special performance.”

Alaskan Silver Pleasantry

“It is secured. Soon, all complete..” Artemis just shook his head, the old girl had pulled it off. Why had he ever doubted Aunt Minerva? Now, he would use the family code to decipher his instructions, and see what else the message said.

The code had been passed down for generations in the family. Secured was the family code word for assassination. Soon meant two days after message sent. Complete was the code meaning authority. The number of periods told them how far away from the primary leader of the group to assassinate.

He smiled again, Strand’s brains think alike. His plan had been to get rid of the policeman, the one voice that Lafayette listened to more than Edwin. She was telling him to do exactly that.

The note to Edwin addressed Lafayette’s course. “My dear nephew, Florida is beautiful. Every pleasantry is available, and I’ve met such wonderful people. It’s time for you to enjoy a vacation, and stop working so hard.”

Florida was the last piece of Edwin’s puzzle. Pleasantry meant all was in place, and vacation plus people meant, it was Edwin’s time. Now he could begin to rid himself of Lafayette and secure the power that he had always dreamed of.

Like everything else, it would be risky, yet he had already survived a bullet. Edwin pulled out the other letter that arrived with Aunt Minerva’s note. It wasn’t addressed to him, but was to Mayor Carl Lafayette. It bore a Presidential seal on it.

Edwin headed to Carl’s office. Artemis, who was now staying in a small room in the hotel a few minutes away, called for his lieutenant. “Tell the musician, I want a clean kill. Eliminate the policeman, wound the Mayor, but no one else regardless. Then follow him, and tidy up.”

“Mayor, this is the opportunity to put our town on the map. It is a long shot, I grant you, but it might be worth trying. The President’s staff wants input from all of Alaska’s officials before floating another try at statehood.”

Edwin had to be careful, he was struggling to sound balanced. If he pushed to hard, Lafayette would question, too little and he would reject. Now he brought up the Sergeant.

“Pin, you could go too. It would give you access to the Secret Service, maybe talk to them about the growing trouble from the Pick Axe organization. Of course, it’s an expensive trip, and it may be more trouble than it’s worth.” He didn’t blink, he hadn’t sounded one sided, and at the end, made it sound like he wasn’t completely onboard himself.

“What do you think Pin? Could we leave right now, with everything going on?” Carl needed reassurance from his friend, and Pin was torn. “I’ll be honest. As much as I want to stay, it’s a chance to get some real help. I say try it.”

Edwin went home happy, his plan was working. Or Aunt Minerva’s and Grandfather’s that is. Either way, he would reap the benefits, and Artemis would eliminate the one man that could stop him.

Only when he was alone did he allow himself to laugh. The policeman had signed his own death warrant. He would die assisting Edwin to do what he had fought against all his life, corruption and greed.

After that, Lafayette would follow, and every other patsy Edwin needed, until he no longer needed them. They would have a fortune, a criminal empire to command, and the ear of a President. Every word he spoke would be carried out, and yet someone else would be blamed.

Now it was time for St Louis to pack. He chose a small pistol, a long range rifle, and his clarinet. Next he placed a small ring box in his pocket. There would be a bigger wedding later, but for now, a small private ceremony on the outskirts of town. Just the couple, the Minister, his partner, and the Minister’s wife. The last two served as witnesses.

After that, St Louis and Harriet would catch a train. They had to be in place to get everything ready for Carl and Pin’s arrival. As happy as he was, something was worrying him.

When a hit is this big, they usually have two assassins. One to carry out the hit, and the other had two jobs. First, to make sure the victims were dead, and second, to kill the first guy so he couldn’t talk. Then, they pay the second man enough to keep his mouth shut, knowing that otherwise they’ll hire a third man.

Alaskan Silver Impatience

The hat, and the letter, sat between them, Strand and Sanders. Berger, Sanders’s second lieutenant was the only other person in the room. “Hinkle was my best man, you shouldn’t have killed him.” “You shouldn’t have threatened me.” “I want more than to be Edwin Strand’s enforcer.”

The two stared at each other for a moment. Sanders was visibly angry, but Strand appeared cool. “Sanders, the primary thing I want to know is why now?” “Simple, if I’m right, you’re on the verge of launching this power play. A month from now, you would be so big I couldn’t stop you. It was my time to get mine now.”

Strand didn’t answer, as if he was waiting for something. Just then, he saw the look in Sanders eyes. He was dead in a few minutes. Strand had brought the hat in, but Sanders never picked up on his gloves.

Edwin had laced the hat with poison, before going in and handing it Sanders to examine. While he hadn’t touched the part that had the poison on it, he was careful in taking off the gloves. Quickly, he grabbed the letter, exited the room, and told Berger he was the new Pick Axe head.

Berger would wait five minutes, until Strand was gone. Then he would open the door, tell the rest that Sanders had a heart attack, and quickly bury the body. No one questioned Berger, which explained why it was so easy for Strand to use him.

He had wanted the same thing Sanders had, power. Strand had promised it to him, and now he had a new general. Of course, Berger, like all the rest to Strand, was expendable.

Meanwhile, Pin and Estelle, as well as Carl and his family, were coping with the news of Harriet’s reported death. No one, not even Edward Mallory, knew she was still alive. St Louis was convinced that they had to be careful, he suspected that someone wasn’t who they appeared to be.

Across the country, Ralph Hearns was finally safe. It had taken a desperate move to accomplish it, but he had slept peacefully for the first time in days. Minerva’s men found him in the town he was hiding in. He barely got away with his life, but now he was safe.

Tomorrow, he would have to feed the lions, and setup the tent, but they would be two towns away. Two days later, they’d leave the state. It would be a tiring life, but it would be a safe one.

A lion tamer’s assistant had to sleep pretty near the cages, but he didn’t mind. For Ralph, joining the circus wasn’t about viewing America. It was about living, and never seeing Minerva again.

Every player was in place, except for two. One of these was Artemis. He didn’t like the fact that Aunt Minerva’s plan hinged on the other person. It meant that something could still go wrong. “Edwin won’t admit to himself that Aunt Minerva is slipping.”

Ten years ago, she would have sowed it up by now. If she hadn’t notified him by the end of the week, he would act alone. Artemis wanted Grandpa’s plan too, but was prepared to hurry it along. That impatience could prove costly, for one Alaskan policeman next week.