Paul went by different names in the industry, but his cover as a respected lawyer and model citizen had served him well over the years.
Having been raised in Germany from an early age, he spoke German like a native, with a slight accent from the Rhineland, never betraying his mother tongue or cultural affinity to Eastern Europe. Nobody suspected that he belonged to the Russian mafia that had branched out of the Ukraine and established itself in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg over the years, specialising in kidnapping and trafficking of young Caucasian girls. When the situation called for it, Paul shed his lawyer guise and donned on the saintly robes of a minister who rescued lost souls, or extracted the young souls from the clutches of poverty. The families only came to know him as The Gardener, a pious man doing the Lord’s work for the Garden of Eternity, promising the young, innocent girls a bright future, education, and even well-paying jobs when the time was right.
It was not common practice to follow up on the girls once he had delivered or sold them to the new masters. Once he “acquired” them, Paul moved the girls around often enough in the beginning to lose any trail and erase all traces of their previous existence. In most cases, the girls were given new identities and sent to other countries for extended periods of time, Spiraling them into networks deep in the underground world where only fellow “buyers” knew their way around. By the time the girls returned to Germany, they had forgotten most of their childhood roots, sometimes even the language, and were very unfamiliar with the geography, making the perfect slaves.
Looking at his tablet, Paul checked his calendar and list of assignments for the week. There were three girls he had been told to follow up on because they were being groomed for a special assignment and had to be brought back to Hamburg for some reason. He was not high enough in the ranks to ask questions, so he did what he was told. The operation had been coded Quo Vadis, which made him frown with concern. When assignments were given this code, it only meant that it was an international operation and he was to take extra precaution, i.e. shoot to kill. As he studies the most recent photographs of the women, he recalled the day he had taken them from their alcoholic mother and how easy it had been to lure them out. The three sisters had been split and as far as he was concerned, there had been no further contact between them ever since.
One girl had been sent to Amsterdam to be a bar dancer and eventually be trained to be what they called in the network, a listener. Her main assignment was to seduce the mark and extract the necessary information at the bar or in bed. Another sister had been sold to a special client. He collected young innocent girls and enslaved them in his remote farm in the outskirts of Stockholm. She harbored no Expectation of ever being being freed, having been subjected to all the necessary psychological methods of submission, including a slave contract that bound her to him for life. She had not been able to finish her formal schooling, which meant she had no idea what she had signed under duress and the influence of heavy sedatives at the time.
The third girl, the oldest sister, was the most interesting of them all. All Paul knew was that she had been given special Directions for initial training to Lisbon and was scheduled to be interned later on in Switzerland, but it was not in the usual prostitution branch. The word among the leadership was that she had been given special privileges and trained in weaponry, encryption and most importantly, disguises. Paul never remembered names on purpose, only certain faces when necessary, but hers was a face that haunted him even in his dreams. Those piercing eyes of hers penetrated his soul with such malevolence that even he, who feared nobody, learned to fear The Messenger.
As the sunset shadows emerged, Paul put away his laptop, changed into his priestly attire and braced himself for an unusual trip. There was something big brewing in the network and it was nothing to scoff at. His gut instinct told him to treat this assignment as the pre-tremors of a major earthquake that would cause devastation beyond anyone’s imagination. The fact that Operation Quo Vadis came with a special clause to cooperate with the Portuguese and Cuban networks was cause for him to feel a trickle of cold sweat down his back.