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The Family

Anna’s family is made up of very special people with very special skills.

Anna is an enigma. She has the strongest will and sharpest intellect I have ever encountered. She is tall – about five eleven – and slim. Anna always moves smoothly. With an almost feline grace that shows off an ample, if somewhat boyish, figure. Her eyes are coal black. The same color as her hair.

Anna never talks about her past. If I bring it up, she dismisses me abruptly. Over the years I have learned not to ask. She will tell me what I need to know . The rest is her business. Most of her family has been with her longer than I have. Some much longer. The old man and Uncle Fred are her oldest relatives – if that is what you can call members of her immediate family.

She is psychic to an extent that amazes me. And I’ve been with her for over five years. She has an ability to know beforehand what’s going to happen. Anna is also telepathic. I can hear her commands and she can access my thoughts.

Her relationship with animals is a defining characteristic. Particularly with our resident black panther, Ning. In some ways they are one. I’m not sure that Anna is a shape shifter. But I do nave my suspicions. In any case, Ning and she are connected.

A woman in a man’s game, Anna dominates and destroys people and organizations that threaten her adopted family. She is the person that law enforcement – both local and national – reaches out to when a case gets too hard or complex. I am proud to be her confidential assistant.

The Old Man is a complete mystery to me. He seldom comes down from the mountain. When I first arrived at Omega, only Anna, Fernando and Uncle Fred are allowed to make the journey beyond the gate. Since then I have been allowed entry – but that is another story. He lives in a cabin near the top of the mountain. From what I gather, Anna has known him far longer than any of the other inhabitants of Omega.

Even in his late eighties, he’s fit and well proportioned. Anna says that he used to be quite heavy. Just over six feet tall, thin but not scrawny, a head of hair that has migrated to white with a full beard to match. She says that it used to be reddish brown. Most notable is his gaze. His eyes peer out from under bushy eyebrows. They have an intensity that’s hard to return even when he’s relaxed. He reminds me of Trickster – the raven. The intensity. He has a very close relationship with that raven. There’s a gravitas about both of them.

The old man is always dressed in roughly cut off fatigue pants that are held in place by a length of ornately knotted rope. The shorts go to just below his knees. His sleeveless shirt is bright orange. Arms and shoulders are covered by downy white hair. Moccasins cover his feet. No sox. He is by far the most dangerous resident of Omega.

Uncle Fred is almost older than dirt”, Anna is fond of saying. There, in the middle of his creation, he looks like Zeus himself. All white beard and floppy hat. Master of his domain. The man lives for his gardens. If I try to talk to him about something other than plants, the weather, fertilizer, insects or the gardens, I get a blank stare. Unless, of course, we are on a case and there’s a murder involved. Then, even for an old fart, he proves uncommonly handy. I suspect that, in his former life, he saw some action. But now, he mostly just tends the garden. When it comes to ‘older than dirt’, Anna is more obscure than normal. And, let’s be clear on this, she’s always obscure. A cipher within a riddle… However that saying goes.

I’ve always suspected that Ooof – Anna’s nickname for Uncle Fred – knows things about her past. Their relationship seems to be rooted in a long shared history. They share a casual familiarity and, every once in a while, I see exchanged glances that seem to hold deeper significance. Ooof knows things about Anna’s past but, like the stone facade of the house, he keeps the secrets to himself. I’ve never learned his last name.

Chang Hun Lee is the resident chef. A real master at pleasing all the senses that go into fine dining. He holds the unshakable belief that Chinese cuisine is the best in the world. For him, the Japanese are in second place. After six years at Omega, I’m a convert. He will, under pressure, agree that the French sometimes get it right – but not often – and mostly then from the Mediterranean parts of the country. He can whip up an awesome Bouillabaisse. He serves it with a creamy white garlic paste that’s so strong just a bit on your tongue can stop your heart – and then start it again. When it comes to European cuisines though, he is particularly fond of the Catalan region. Maybe that’s because Fernando is Catalan. Master Chang is connected to our resident seven-foot long bushmaster, Edit who lives in the spring house and is the nastier and more lethal of all the animal residents of Omega.

The Manhattan house is run by Chang Wha Che. The wife of Master Chang. The Changs have been together long enough so that extended absence is not a problem. Anna says that having them in separate places has extended their marriage and allowed he to keep two very valuable family members.

Fernando de Santos is the butler. He very old, very Catalan and usually very formal. He never hurries or sends his voice off ahead of his arrival. There’s a protocol to his every movement. Even after five years of being Anna’s confidential assistant, he still treats me as if I’m a first time guest due all the honors.

It took me a while to figure out Fernando. Like most Catalans, he has a ribald sense of humor and loves to play practical jokes. He also has an exceptional voice that he sometimes uses to serenade us with folk songs from his youth. Like most at Omega, looks are deceiving. More than once, he has proved very useful when the little lead rain begins to fall. He is a crack shot and very protective of the inhabitants of Omega. Fernando is connected to ós, our resident brown bear.

Andre Louveteau, bodyguard and electronics ace, is another from Anna’s Paris collection. He was working electronic surveillance for Département de la Sûreté/SécuritéTerritoriale – known as the Sûreté – the French equivalent of the FBI. He got loaned to Anna when she was working on a particularly sensitive matter for the US State Department. After the bad guys were either dead or deported, Anna suggested that there might be a spot on her team. Andre jumped at the chance. That was seven years ago. Andre is just over six two and a hundred and eighty pounds. He has the weathered good looks that only the French can produce well. Trained in electronic surveillance and savte, he has more than once proven his worth. Andre is connected to Ranger, our resident grey wolf