Monday, March 29, 2021

The Sea Hag -Chapter 14-


Altus paced the command deck of his custom built superyacht, his long legs eating up the polished white marble flooring. He was dressed casually, a white tee shirt under a black blazer and matching slacks. All bespoke, of course, and made of the finest sharkskin, but visually relatable nonetheless. Venter was always keenly aware of the persona he projected and he wanted his public one to be friendly and disarming.

He glanced at the watch on his wrist that cost more than most cars and huffed impatiently. “Really, how hard is it to track down some small town bozo and his redneck truck?” he asked his comms officer, Brian. Or was it Brad? It hardly mattered.

Brian or Brad replied calmly, “They got a match, sir, it’s coming through now. Oh, boy.”

“What?” Altus frowned and rushed over to bend and stare at the screen. 

There was a driver’s license photo of a blonde bearded, long-haired man, who looked like a well-groomed lumberjack, and below read the name: Mendoza-Morgan, Gabriel Angel.

Altus felt his eyes go wide. “Morgan?” he questioned the tech.

BrianBrad made a few mouse clicks, bringing up a couple more photos that looked like they had come from social media. There he saw a clean-shaven, but otherwise identical looking man, tagged as Michael Mendoza-Morgan, and an older but still starkly beautiful Cecelia Mendoza-Morgan.

Altus squeezed his eyes shut and rose to his full, impressive height. He folded his hands together as if in prayer, tapping his forefingers against his lips. “You see how even one’s most generous impulses may return to bite one on the ass.”

“Sir?” said BradBrian uncertainly.

Altus opened his eyes and took a deep breath. “Tell them to ready the Hawk. Tell the Seals to meet me there. I want them in full kit, both lethal and non. I will brief them personally on the way.” He pulled the silver-plated, gold-handled Glock from where it rested in it’s holster under his left arm and checked the slide and the magazine before re-holstering it with practiced motions.

“You’re joining the retrieval team, sir?” The tech was aghast.

Altus smiled as he turned to leave the deck, “Jonathan Morgan’s spawn have stolen what is mine,” he called. “This just became personal!”

Seal Team Blitz was assembled and ready by the Black Hawk helicopter when Altus strode into the hangar. Six pairs of eyes watched him dispassionately as he vaulted into the chopper’s open bay area and sat down, securing his custom Kevlar vest underneath the suit jacket.

“The target is in a house with three other people,” he said, pulling a headset off a hook and motioning for the team to board. “I want her subdued and restrained first thing. I want to reiterate that she is extremely deadly in close quarters, so keep your distance. Her captors, the Morgans, are untrained civilians. Subdue and restrain as well. I’ll want to have a little chat with them.” He donned his headset and made a gesture to the pilot indicating that they were ready to take off as the team strapped in and adjusted their own headsets. The ceiling of the hangar opened, a deep cavern in the middle of the enormous yacht, and the fully armed Black Hawk lifted smoothly through it and sped eastward. 

“The location is isolated,” Altus continued when they had leveled out, shouting into the headset over the noise of the wind and rotors. “A private residence that backs up to a seaside cliff. We should not be disturbed by either neighbors or law enforcement. However,” he reached into a pocket and pulled out a ski mask, brandishing it at them. They all reached into various pockets and pouches to retrieve their own. Altus smiled, his eyes gleaming with approval as they donned their masks. “Good. Best if no one is recognized, yes? We have better things to do than answer tiresome questions from jumped-up authority figures.” He grinned and slid on his own mask. It was custom fitted black silk, of course.

The chopper banked and Altus could see a cliffside emerge from the omnipresent Pacific haze, then a brick red manor house with white trim, surrounded on three sides by old, wind-battered pines. There seemed to be a small barn or shed behind the house and two vehicles sat in the driveway. They were coming in fast, but Altus trusted the pilot to know his craft. They alighted with barely a jolt on the wide, circular lawn on the north side of the house. A bearded man wearing work boots, jeans and a tight, red t-shirt leapt from the old ford pickup in the driveway as they approached. 

Altus grinned like a shark when he saw the man’s wide eyes as he sprinted for the house. His Seals spilled out of the landing helicopter like their namesakes off an ice flow, spreading out to encircle the house. He could hear their captain, Reyes, giving orders through the earpiece he wore and he hung back as they positioned themselves two at each exit, and two at the door to the barn.

“Clear to breach on your signal, Sir,” came Reyes' voice in his ear.

Altus could see the man, poised at the front door, holding a pneumatic battering ram and he smiled magnanimously. “As you will, Captain.”

“It’s actually ‘Chief’, Sir--” Reyes began.

Altus cut him off with an impatient skyward groan. “ Whatever! Do the thing!”

“Breaching,” came the muttered reply.

A countdown of three to one and simultaneous crashing noises as three doors were busted open. Altus watched Reyes and another man draw their tasers and batons before clearing the entryway and going in, one after the other.

He heard the rapid clicking of a taser gun and piercing shrieks. Men yelling both in his earpiece and from the house. Screams and curses coming from the direction of the barn.

“Rear building secure,” said a female voice over the radio. “One female civilian subdued.”

“”Nevermind him! Get her! Get the fucking ties on her, now! Watch those claws, jesus!” A slightly panicky male voice said. “Target is down. Securing now. One male civilian subdued. They put up a hell of a fight.”

More crackling. Repeated heavy thuds. Grunting, then, “Last male subdued and restrained. Christ, this guy’s a beast.” Reyes sounded winded, which spoke well of whichever twin that was.

“Fine work, gentlemen,” Altus said, heading for the splintered front door and removing his mask. “If you could assemble them all in the front room, and make sure they’re conscious, I’d like to have a word.”

He stood in the doorway and surveyed the small front room. It was expensive but worn, the furniture obviously antique and just as obviously lived in. The style was a bit too old world aristocrat for Jonathan Morgan, but it fit his widow all too well.

The team dragged Sirena and the Morgans into the room, one by one, feet and hands bound together behind them with heavy duty zip ties. 

Sirena came first, writhing and snarling, trying to bite the man who dragged her by the arm to kneel before Altus. Her big, black, alien eyes regarded him with undisguised hatred and she bared her sharp predator’s teeth as her breath hissed in and out.

She was followed by the short haired twin, Michael. He groaned as he was dragged across the floor. The left side of his face was cut and swollen, dripping blood in a steady patter across the old wood floor.

Sirena tore her eyes away from Altus and he saw her anguish as she regarded his wounds. “Michael,” she said, leaning toward him and nearly falling over in the process. “Michael, are you alright? Can you hear me?”

Michael groaned and swayed drunkenly on his knees so that a Seal had to catch him and right him before he fell. “Ngh. What a week I’m having,” he slurred and spat blood onto the floor. 

Reyes came in next, dragging the bearded twin, Gabriel, and, at the same time, the female Seal and her partner carried in the defeated form of Cecelia. Altus indicated that they should set them down before him, next to the others. Gabriel glared daggers at the man through swollen eyes, his face even more beat up than his brother’s. Cecelia stared resolutely at the floor. Her mouth was moving but Altus couldn’t make out what she was saying.

Sirena was looking over each of them and then back at Altus. “Let them go, Venter,” she said, drawing herself up as much as she could, trying to keep his attention on her. “You can have me. I won’t fight you. I’ll do whatever you want. Just, please, let them go.”

Michael turned his head toward her. “Sirena, no.”

“Michael, I--”

Altus cut them both off, waving his hand. “I’m afraid it’s far too late for that kind of thing, my dear. It seems Jonathan Morgan’s continuing legacy is to be a pain in my ass. I should have ended these three with their traitorous patriarch ten years ago.” His lip curled and his eyes flashed as he stared at Cecelia. “But I showed mercy, didn’t I Cecelia?

She stopped her murmuring and looked up at him for the first time, eyes hard and filled with hate. “Puto,” she spat at him, “Vete a la chingada, you murdering piece of shit!”

Altus sighed and reached into his jacket. “See?” he said to the assembled Seals behind his prisoners. “Mercy is weakness, my friends, and weakness invites abuse.” He leveled the gun at Cecelia. “This is how I deal with people who abuse my generosity.” He squeezed the trigger and the back of the woman's head exploded in a shower of red.

Gabriel lunged and screamed, falling on top of her as she fell backwards. Sirena was keening a sobbing moan, but Altus’ eyes fell on Michael. The only one not looking at his dead mother. He didn’t appear to be looking at anything, just straining at his bonds and screaming for his mother over and over, frantic and confused.

Altus holstered the Glock and squatted down in front of Michael. The man didn’t look at him, didn’t even seem to know he was there. Altus waved a hand in front of those bright blue eyes, but they didn’t react, just rolled around sightlessly, tears streaming from them.

“He killed her!” cried Gabriel as he was hauled upright again. “Michael, he killed her! Oh, God!”

Altus watched as the knowledge hit the blind man, watched grief melt his handsome features into something ugly and distorted. Grief had always fascinated Altus, and he’d never had an opportunity to study it up close like this without the subject being aware of his scrutiny.

Altus crouched there like a ghoul, his face inches from Michael’s, eyes wide and glazed with a kind of lust.

The Seals began to shift uncomfortably, looking at each other and especially at Reyes, who cleared his throat meaningfully a couple of times until Altus’ annoyed glare silenced him. Reyes looked away quickly and resumed staring straight ahead. 

Altus looked back at the blind man, studying him a bit closer. Michael was shirtless and he had two puncture wounds high on either side of his chest. They dripped thick, drying trails of blood down his lean-muscled chest.

“Was this you guys?” Altus asked the Seals. They looked at each other and shook their heads. One of them pointed out that Michael had eight more of them on his back. Altus looked at them and spread his hand over the wound, then looked at Sirena. He stepped around to look at her hands and a grin spread across his face.

“Oh, I get it,” he said, looking conspiratorially between the two. “You mated with her!” he laughed. “My God, or you tried, yeah?”

He giggled while Sirena refused to look at him and the blind man turned beet red.

“Oh, oh, that is...disgusting!” he cried gleefully. “I mean, have you seen her?” He laughed uproariously, “No! No, I suppose you haven’t! You know they call her the Sea Hag, right?”

“Sir?” Reyes was eyeing Altus with distaste, though his tone remained respectful and professional. “Sir, if security is a priority, then we should not remain here any longer than is necessary.

Altus huffed, “You’re no fun, Reyes.” He rose and clapped his hands like a teacher trying to get everyone’s attention. “Good news, Sirena. Your blind little boy toy can live. For now. His brother too. You’ve all given me the most wonderful idea. Identical twins are exceptionally useful in matters of genetic research, and I have a nifty new retrovirus that is sorely in need of human testing.” He motioned to the Seals to bring the prisoners as he turned and made for the chopper, donning his mask as he went.

The Seals said nothing as they grabbed Sirena and the men, one on each side, hauling them by the upper arms.

“Gabe?” Michael said quietly, not sure where his brother was.

Gabriel answered reflexively, listlessly. “Yeah.”

Michael sniffed and choked back a  sob. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, man. Mom...I--This is all my fault.”

“No, Michael,” Sirena said, her voice flat and dull. “He was only after me. If you hadn’t met me--”

“Shut up, both of you,” Gabe’s harsh, tired bark shocked them to silence. “That fucking monster, Venter, owns absolutely all of the blame. For all of this. Forever. Understood?”

They were set down with surprising gentleness inside the helicopter. They lay on their sides facing each other, heads to each other's knees while the Seals piled in and the rotors spun up.

Altus donned his headset as they rose and toggled the thing to a private channel with the pilot. He sat back and smiled as the Black Hawk banked sharply and turned 180 degrees to face the house on the cliff again.

There was a hissing sound, loud enough to be heard over the rotors, and two Hydra rockets launched from beneath the helicopter and flew straight at the house they had just left. 

An enormous fireball painted the sky with black smoke. What was left of the old manor house collapsed inward and blazed sullenly.

Altus waved an acknowledgement to the pilot and they banked again, heading back to the Cerulean. He watched Gabriel’s face as they swung around and he could see the flaming smudge that was his childhood home. 

Altus drank in the man’s despair, savoring it like a rare vintage.


  1. Omg I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. I'm dying to read the next chapter!! Here we go!!

  2. Oh shiiit they killed the mom. Oh no...

  3. Such an exciting chapter! I couldn't stop reading. Wow.. next week can't come soon enough.

  4. Oof!!! Damn! What an emotional rollercoaster. I already hate Venter. Can't believe he killed the mom!! Jesus. As always, I'm excited for the next chapter!

  5. OMG, not Cecilia. That was so intense and sad and brutal. And their home. Just wow!