Chapter 44 Open for business

Lora swings the large loading dock doors wide open, and nods to the group. Silently they  quickly walk to the next warehouse. A few solid whacks on the lock and the door opens. Lim stays and opens its doors. Much to their surprise, the next one's door is already unlocked and the now smaller group moves on. “Women, there is a trooper one block up. He hasn't moved for over two hours. I would still be careful,” announces Celeste.

Holi looks at Lora and points to herself. Lora nods and Holi takes off at a trot. She spots the trooper and smells him from a fair distance away. He's motionless and sitting in a brown puddle with his back against a wall. She walks up to him and looks down. He lifts glazed eyes and stares at her mumbling, “Help me.” Holi points her stunner at him, pulls the trigger and his head lolls off to the side. “You get the next ten minutes pain-free on me,” Holi quietly says. She looks at him and the mess under him and decides not to roll him over. She quickly lashes his hands together and ties them to his feet. His stun gun goes into her bag. “I got him and a stunner,” she says out loud and waits for the group to catch up.

As Lora and Elena approach the last warehouse there is a small group of women already waiting. The door is quickly breached to the accompaniment of ripping cloth. Lora walks in and takes a second staff from the pile. “Every woman deserves a staff,” she states loudly.  She puts the two new stunners in her bag and waving at Elena and the other women she strides out. Walking back she stops at each warehouse and takes an additional staff. Seeing other women now on the streets now she lifts her staff to them as she passes.

Stepping over piles of torn black cloth she adds the nine staffs to the diminishing pile. About sixty women are holding their new staffs and nervously whispering to each other. “Good job women. In about thirty more minutes you should all be at about 98% of the women here. In the meantime distribute your ties and show everyone how to tie up troopers and Elders. Lora, you need to double time this and get it done. As soon as you are finished you need to start sending teams out to collect stunners,” said Celeste to the ten team leaders.

“I need the team leaders to join me and everyone else watches,” yells out Lora. Nine women step forward, and the crowd encircles them. “This is a stunner,” says Lora as she pulls hers out and holds it in the air. “You point it at a trooper or Elder, pull the trigger, and they become immobile for about ten minutes. The trooper's all have one but as of this morning, not only are they sick, they now only work for a woman who has a coin in her pocket. We are going to take their stunners and tie them up with these,” said Lora holding ties over her head. “Use them to secure their wrists behind them and then tie their feet together. Leave them where there are and if they mouth off feel free to give them a wack with your staff,” says Lora with a nasty grin as she listens to the laughter.

“What's your name,” asked Lora as she handed the woman a stunner and bundle of ties. “I'm Sari.” Lora points to a white blinking dot on the tablet map. “See that white dot?” “Yes.” “You know where it is?” Sari nodded. “Take your team and get that stunner. Don't let any troopers escape, and come back as quickly as you can.”

Swallowing the last of his sweet rolls the Marshal walks towards the square and suddenly freezes against the wall. A group of bare-legged women with long sticks cross the intersection and continue down the street. Stepping over to the corner he furtively looks down the street. The women brazenly walk up to a trooper holding his stunner and stop. One points a stunner at him, and he collapses to the sidewalk. In seconds, they take his stunner and tie him up. The women at a trot head back the way they came. The Marshal presses himself into a doorway and waits till they pass. Waiting a few moments he carefully goes around the corner and walks over to the still unconscious trooper. Looking closely at the plastic ties he thinks, “Ingenious, and it looks like the trooper's gun just stopped working for him.”

Turning around he walks in the direction the women headed in and comes across a trussed up trooper laying against a wall. He's tied differently. Then he notes the odor, sees the brown puddle and smiles, “I don't blame them.” Going to the next corner he peers around it. Halfway down the block, another group of women leaves a warehouse heading in the other direction. Seeing the first dim glimmerings of daylight the Marshal turns back and heads towards the square.

Lora watches proudly as the women keep gleefully returning with stunners and more teams head out back out. “Hi Lora,” said Celeste. “Your teams are doing a great job. There are just a few more to go. Holi is moving her team over to you. When the last of the stunners are collected give Holi twenty and you keep the remaining ones. You're going to need them. You and Holi are going to move your groups to the square. The others will move up behind you as backups.”

Ben looked over at Celeste who had been motionless and silent for over an hour. “Celeste, are you okay?” he quietly asks. After a couple of minutes, Celeste slowly turns her head towards Ben and looks directly at him.. “Sorry to say, Ben, I'm not perfect and very upset. I  have every drone I own in the air looking for that trailer and crate.” “How about I just sit here quietly with you?” With a shy small smile, Celeste said, “Thank you, Ben. I would like that very much,” and she turns her head away from him and stares back off  into space.