The gleaming blade hovered inches above White Owl's vacant face. Felicia's eyes flashed with eagerness as the scalpel traced the air above the slumbering heroine's head. "You should have been mine," she hissed. "It's not fair that we went to all that trouble and got nothing. Lauren is too money hungry to pay attention to all my needs..."
The scalpel drooped, touching the heroine's tanned skin just on the left of her slowly rising and falling breasts. "It wouldn't take much," mused Felicia, aloud; "just a quick little jab here, and you'd bleed out so fast, no one could save you. I wonder if..."
"All right lass, that'll be enough of that." The dim lighting in the lab suddenly flashed brighter and Felicia threw her arm over her eyes. Yukiko crossed the room with catlike grace and deftly plucked the scalpel from Felicia's hand.
"She is disarmed Lauren," reported Yukiko. "What is your wish regarding her?"
"Eh, let 'er go," said Lauren. "I might have done the same thing meself."
Lauren turned to Felicia, and scolded. "I'm gonna cut your pay on this caper though. If you can't follow orders, ya gotta be disciplined." Felicia's pout nearly melted Lauren's icy heart, and the Queen of Crime had to steel herself against the angelic face.
"Now scoot," said Lauren, dismissing Felicia from guard duty. Yukiko sighed.
"What?" said Lauren.
"Nothing," said Yukiko, averting her eyes. Lauren balled her fists, then unclenched them.
"Look, love," she said to Yukiko. "When you're running this gang, after I've retired to Singapore, THEN you can do things by whatever book you want. But until then, this is my show, OK?"
Yukiko nodded and the faintest hint of a smile crossed her face. The two women then turned back to the unconscious heroine.
White Owl was still bound in the pink ribbon, her arms and legs tight. The gleaming band on her head pulsed slightly, indicating the brain drain was still working as well. "So what's next?" asked Lauren, her voice slightly above a whisper.
"There is no need to lowah yo' voice sugah," said Suzy Q, emerging from a lab door at the other end of the room. "She's so fah gone, even a GPS wouldn't help her none." The honey blond crossed to Lauren and frowned.
"Ah jes heard about F'licia. Ah'm sorry I wasn't there."
"No matter--what's done is done," replied Yukiko.
"As fo' what's next," continued Suzy Q, ignoring Yukiko; "well, then. First, we have a glass case filled with inert gasses. White Turkey here will be loaded into the case, an' fitted with an oxygen and narcotic mask. She'll have enough air to breathe, but won't be able to form a conscious thought. Once that' s sealed, she'll be packed in a normal crate for Lauren to deliver."
"An' don't forget the lovely money," said Lauren. She stepped to the inert form of White Owl and smiled. "I'll be rid of you once an' for all, Stormy Petral!"
Yukiko piped up. "Are you sure you want to trust Hao Chin? You were pretty evasive when you first met him, and this time--well something doesn't feel right."
Lauren tossed her head back and laughed. "He had courage, I'll grant him that. Didn't flinch once when you offered to kill him. No, he's earned this. An' it's not like I'll be alone out there. You ladies will be set up just atop the hill, out of sight. Anythin' goes wrong, you're to swoop in like the Avengin' Furies themselves! We'll dispose of Hao Chin an' Ruddy Duck at the same time if he tries to cross us."
A cuckoo clock struck 9 pm as Lauren latched the back of her delivery van. Inside was the carefully packaged container full of White Owl. Lauren adjusted her jaunty fedora blew a kiss at the back of the van and gunned it out of the warehouse. Thirty minutes of driving left Queen City well behind her and Lauren followed along the river road toward the rendezvous point.
She turned onto the private road, and along the two ruts leading to the small valley where Hao Chin would be waiting. But as Lauren entered the clearing, she could only see the bend in the river--no car or truck waiting for her.
"What in bloody hell?" she asked, killing the engine and shutting off the lights. She wasn't eager to break radio silence with her assistants, and so she fretted. But across the river, she saw a bright spotlight aimed at the clearing.
"Of course, it's brilliant," muttered Lauren. "Of course he had a boat." Lauren stepped out of the van and watched as the boat drew closer. So intent was she on watching the boat, she failed to hear the helicopter until it was flying overhead. When the beating of the rotor alerted her, Lauren looked up as a dark helicopter sprayed a thick, cloying gas over the clearing and up over the hill.
Choking and tearing up, Lauren clutched at the handle of the van, but drooped sleepily and collapsed on the ground. Six pairs of boots clumped up behind Lauren and men in gas masks sprayed the unconscious felon with another dose of sleeping gas. Laughing in their masks, the six men grabbed Lauren and tossed the dozing gangster over one shoulder. Four others gathered the case from the back of the van , then carried it to the waiting boat. The last man placed charges under the van then scurried back to the boat.
The cabin cruiser drifted into the river, then headed downstream as Hao Chin pushed a button on a remote control. Three hundred yards away, the Shamrock Delivery van exploded in a bright fireball.
(to be continued)