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Chapter 45 Open for business

Lora swung the large loading dock doors wide open and nodded to the group. Silently they walked quickly to the next warehouse. A couple of solid whacks on the lock and the door opened. Lim stayed and opened its doors. Much to their surprise, the next one's door is already unlocked. The now smaller group moved on. “Women, there is a trooper one block up. He hasn't moved for over two hours, but I would still be careful,” announced Celeste.

Holi looked at Lora and pointed to herself. Lora nodded, and she took off at a trot. She spotted the trooper and smelled him from a fair distance away. He was motionless and sitting in a brown puddle with his back against a wall. She walked up and looked down at him. Glazed eyes stared up at her mumbling, “Please help me.” Holi pointed her stunner at him, pulled the trigger and his head lolled off to the side. “You get the next ten minutes pain-free on me,” said Holi. Looking at the mess under him she decided not to roll him over. She lashed together his hands and tied them to his feet. His troopers stun gun was dropped into her bag. “I got him along with his stunner,” she said out loud and waited for the group to catch up.

As Lora and Elena approached the last warehouse a small group of women was already waiting. The door was breached to the accompaniment of ripping cloth. Lora took another staff from the pile. “Every woman deserves a staff,” she said to the women. Walking back an additional one was picked up at each warehouse. Seeing other women on the streets now she hoisted her staff to them as she passed.

Stepping over heaps of torn black cloth she added the nine staffs to the diminishing pile. About sixty women were holding their 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're finished start sending teams out to collect stunners,” said Celeste to the ten.

“I need my team leaders to join me, and everyone else watches,” yelled out Lora. Nine women stepped forward, and the crowd encircled them. “This is a stunner,” said Lora as she pulled her's out and held it in the air. “You point it, 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 they are and if they mouth off feel free to give them a wack with your staff,” said Lora with a nasty grin as she listened to the laughter.

“What's your name,” asked Lora as she handed the woman a stunner and bundle of ties. “I'm Sari.” Lora pointed 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 bite of his sweet roll the Marshal walked towards the square, and suddenly froze up against the wall. A group of bare-legged women with long sticks crossed the intersection and continued down the street. He snuck a quick look around the corner. The women brazenly walked up to a trooper as he repeatably pulled his trigger and stopped. One pointed her stunner, and he collapsed 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 pressed himself into a doorway and waited till they passed. A few moments later he carefully went around the corner and walked up to the still unconscious trooper. Looking closely at the plastic ties he thought, “Ingenious, and it looked like the trooper's gun just stopped working for him.”

Turning around he walked in the direction the women came from and saw the trussed up trooper laying against a wall. He's tied differently, then noted the odor and spotted the brown puddle. He smiled, “I don't blame them.” Going to the next corner, he peeked around it. Halfway down the block, a group of women left a warehouse headed in the other direction. Seeing the first dim glimmerings of daylight, the Marshal turned back and started off towards the square.

Lora proudly watched as women kept gleefully returning with stunners and more teams enthusiastically charged out. “Hi Lora,” said Celeste. “Your teams are doing a great job. There are just a few more to go. Holi is now moving her group over to you. When the last of the stunners are collected, give Holi twenty, and you keep the remaining. 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 asked. After a couple of long minutes, Celeste slowly turned her head towards Ben. “Sorry to say, Ben, I'm not perfect and 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 small half smile, Celeste said, “Thank you, Ben. I would like that.” Celeste turned her head away and stared off into space.