The blond said, "yes," the other one said, "Crystal f**king clear." Oh, yeah, he was American, only we have that poetic turn of phrase.
Then I heard the sirens. They were close, very close, like in front of the building close. I'd have liked to think they were just passing through, but when you're holding this many guns out in the open, you can't count on that.
"Never a cop when you need one," Bobby Lee said, "try to do anything illegal, and they're all over ya."
The billed-cap man said, "If you put all your guns away before the cops get in sight, we'll just pretend this didn't happen." He was smiling as he leaned across, so I'd be sure and see the smug expression.
I smiled back, and his smile wilted because I looked too damned pleased. I wasn't smooth at digging my badge out of my pocket yet, not one-handed anyway, but I managed. I flashed the metallic star in its little case. "Federal marshal, ass**le. Keep your hands where we can see them until the nice policemen arrive."
"What are you arresting us for?" the blond asked in his German accent. "We have done nothing."
"Oh, I don't know. We'll start with carrying concealed weapons without a permit, then suspicion of grand theft auto." I patted the side of the Impala. "This ain't your car, and whatever your friend over there dropped on the floorboard is going to be illegal. Just call it a hunch."
"Bobby Lee, we don't need this big a crowd."
He grasped my meaning and barked another order in that odd guttural almost-German.
The wererats melted away in that too-quick-to-follow-with-the-eye blur of speed I'd seen them use once or twice.
Claudia stayed at her post, and Bobby Lee refused to leave, but it was just the three of us when the first policeman saw us. Well, five if you count the bad guys.
Two uniformed officers came up the alley, walking, because the truck that was blocking the road hadn't moved, but the wererat that had been driving it was walking just ahead of them with his hands laced on the top of his head. With his hands up, it flashed that his shoulder holster was empty. They'd taken his gun.
I made sure my badge was held up as high as I could manage. I was yelling "federal marshall" as they came around the corner.
The cops used the few cars on that side of the lot for cover, and yelled, "Guns down!"
I yelled, "Federal Marshal Anita Blake, the rest of these people are federal deputies."
Bobby Lee whispered, "Deputies?"
I spoke out of the corner of my mouth, "Just agree with me."
I stepped back from the car enough to flash my badge better and yell, "Federal Marshall Blake, glad to see you officers."
The officers stayed behind the engine blocks of the cars, but had stopped yelling at us. They were trying to figure out how much trouble they'd be in if we really were federal and they messed up what we were doing, but they weren't worrying about politics so hard as to risk getting themselves shot. I approved.
I lowered my voice and spoke to the men in the car, before I walked towards the policemen. "Carrying concealed without a permit, weapons on you that are illegal no matter what, a stolen car, and I'm betting when your prints hit the system it lights up like a Christmas tree." I was smiling and nodding at the two policemen hiding behind the cars. The badge had calmed them, but they still had their guns out, and I heard other sirens in the distance. They'd called for backup, I couldn't blame them. They had no way of knowing any of us qualified as a cop.
I glanced at the blond. "Besides, the police around here take a dim view of criminals following federal marshals around."
"We did not know you were police," the blond said.
"Your intel sucks," I said.
He nodded, his hands still on the steering wheel. "Yes."
I put my gun up and held my badge up very high, put both hands up to show I was currently unarmed, and walked carefully towards the two uniforms, and the others that were creeping, cautiously, guns drawn, out of the alley. There were days when I truly loved having a badge. This was sooo one of those days.
Three hours later I was sitting in the outer office of the police station, sipping really bitter coffee, and waiting for someone to let me talk to my prisoners. I had a badge, and I had the right to deputize anyone I saw fit in an emergency. The police had taken Bobby Lee, Claudia, and the one driver in for questioning. They'd been sent home an hour ago. Bobby Lee had tried to insist he stay with me, but his lawyer had told him going home after only two hours was a gift and he should take it. He took it after I insisted. It helped that there had been an MP5 Heckler and Koch submachine gun on the floorboard, not to mention about half a dozen more smaller weapons, four knives, one of those collapsible clubs, an ASP. Oh, and that the car they were driving wasn't theirs.
The dark-haired guy who'd been so sullen turned out to be ex-army, so his prints came up. Strangely, he had no criminal record. I would have bet almost anything that he was a bad guy. But if he was a bad guy, he was good enough at it to have never been caught.
The blond didn't exist, his prints weren't in our system. Because of the German accent and my insistence, they'd forwarded both sets of prints to Interpol to see if our boys were wanted outside the country, but that would take time.
So I had been left to cool my heels in a very uncomfortable desk chair beside the desk of a detective that never seemed to be there. The nameplate read, "P. O'Brien," but as far as I'd seen in over three hours, he was a myth. There was no Detective O'Brien, they just sat people by his desk and assured them that he'd be coming to talk to them soon.
I wasn't under arrest, in fact, I wasn't in trouble at all. I was free to go, but I was not free to speak with the prisoners without someone present. Fine by me, I talked to them with the nice policemen present. None of us learned anything, but that they both knew that they wanted their lawyers. Once they got read their rights that was all either of them would say.
There was enough to hold them for at least seventy-two hours, but after that we were up shit creek, unless their prints came back with an active criminal warrant.
I took another sip of the coffee, made a face, and set it carefully on the desk of the invisible detective. I thought I'd never meet coffee I couldn't drink. I was wrong. It tasted like old gym socks and was nearly as solid. I sat up straight and wondered about simply leaving. My badge kept me and the wererats out of jail, and made sure the two bad guys didn't get to go free, but that was about all. The local police weren't happy with anyone with 'federal' as part of their title messing in local crime.
A woman came to stand in front of me. She was about five eight, wearing a black skirt that was longer than was stylish, but then, her comfortable black shoes weren't exactly cutting edge either. Her blouse was a dark gold that looked like silk but was probably something easier to clean. Her hair had been dark brunette, but was so streaked with gray and silver and white that it looked like she'd streaked it on purpose. Natural punk.
Deep smile lines showcased a truly nice smile. She held her hand out to me. I stood up to shake hands, and her handshake was firm, strong. I glanced at the black suit jacket on the back of Detective O'Brien's chair and knew who I was talking to even before she introduced herself.
"Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. We've had a busy day." She motioned me to sit back down.
I sat. "Understandable."
She smiled, but her eyes didn't match the smile now, as if she didn't believe me. "I'm going to be in charge of this case, so I just want to get a few things clear." She laid the folder she'd been carrying on her desk, opened it, and seemed to be reading some notes.
"Sure," I said.
"You don't know why these two men were following you, correct?"
"No, I don't."
She gave me a very direct look out of her dark gray eyes. "Yet, you felt the matter was so urgent that you deputized," she checked her notes, "ten civilians to help you capture these two men."
I shrugged and gave her pleasant, empty eyes. "I don't like being followed by people I don't know."
"You told the officers on sight that you suspected the men of carrying illegal weapons. That was before anyone had searched them, or the car. How did you know they were carrying illegal weapons," there was the slightest hesitation before she said, "Marshal Blake?"
"Gut instinct, I guess."