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New Salem Harbor swarmed with workers, some transporting cargo from warehouse to ship, others from ship to warehouse.

According to Maryanna Rivers' information, the kidnappers were two brothers who led a small but well-connected smuggling operation.

Pierce approached the kidnapper's hideout cautiously, and made a wide circuit around the building. Just another warehouse in a sea of warehouses, it was an old rusty corrugated-metal structure, about thirty yards wide and forty yards long. The main room was a square, and there was a shorter segment in the back likely consisting of several smaller rooms. The only entrances to the warehouse were two side-by-side rolling steel shutter doors in the front. Both were open. No security cameras were to be seen.

A small group of men were moving crates from the main room onto several horse-drawn carts, while two tough-looking armed guards conversed. After the guards were done talking, one crossed his arms and watched the workers, while the other disappeared into the warehouse's labyrinth of crate stacks.

There did not seem to be any way to get in unseen at the moment. Pierce considered what he should do and looked around. It was then that he spotted a dirty-looking, poorly-clothed, bearded man slumped against the wall of a nearby warehouse.

He approached the man. "Hey, mister." No response. The old guy was fast asleep. Pierce crouched down and grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him awake.

"Uhhh? what's happening?" The old man looked frightened.

Pierce took out a bill from the wad of cash in his pocket and showed the man, whose face went from fearful to awestruck.

"It's been years since I've seen a thousand dollar bill!"

"Well, you can have it if you do something for me." Pierce helped the man to his feet. "You see those guys over there loading those crates into those carts?"

The man nodded his head.

"I need you to go distract them for me. Scream something crazy at them, mess with their horses, get in the carts, something."

The man looked at the armed guard and back at Pierce doubtfully. "I don't know, that seems pretty dangerous. Some of the guys around the harbor are good to me, but I don't know these guys, and the one with a gun looks dangerous..."

Pierce looked back at the guard, then sighed. "You're right." He pulled four more bills out of the wad and held them up for inspection.

The old man's jaw dropped and his eyes sparkled. "Alright, I'll do it!" Pierce handed him the money and the man hid it away in his ratty shoes.

The new hire walked slowly over to the men loading the carts. When he closed the distance he began to shriek and jump around. The horses were getting agitated. Excellent. Then some of the loaders, telling the old man to stop and get away from the horses, began walking towards him. The old man started laughing hysterically, and, walking backwards while taunting his pursuers, tripped over his own feet and fell backwards, bouncing off of the side of one of the horses and landing face-first on the gravel. This sent the team into a gallop, and their cart quickly disappeared around the corner of another warehouse.

Some of the loaders ran after the runaway horses, shouting for anyone to stop them. The now angry armed guard began walking towards the old man, who was now being restrained by two of the loaders.

As Pierce sneaked into the warehouse unwatched, he heard the old man groan as the guard punched him hard in the gut. I hope it's a short beating, Pierce thought.

He crept from crate tower to crate tower, listening for anybody who might be in the warehouse, but everyone seemed to be sufficiently distracted. When he reached the other end of the building, he crept up to the door left ajar on the right side of the back wall. He looked through the opening and saw a hallway leading to three doors. He put his ear to the first door and heard talking.

First man: "Do you have the DNA test results for the red-head?"

Second man: "Yeah, they came back negative."

Third man: "Blast. I guess we can do something else with her then."

First: "We could sell her to Richards."

Third: "That mad flesh-peddler would pay a good price for her."

First: "He probably wouldn't even rent her out. She's definitely his type."

Second: "Anything else, boss?"

Third: "No, enjoy your day off, Charlie."

Second: "Thank you, sir."

The doorknob turned and the door opened with Pierce lying in wait behind it. As soon as Charlie had swung the door to close it, Pierce saw the man was facing his direction. He launched his right fist at Charlie's throat, and in the instant the door clicked closed, Pierce's fist crushed Charlie's windpipe, causing him to reel back, stunned and gasping for breath. Pierce quickly got behind the man and snapped his neck, ending his misery.

Charlie went limp, and Pierce dragged him to the second door, listening for any noise inside. Not hearing anything, he silently opened the door a crack and peaked in. It was a kitchen lit only by the sun shining through a skylight in the slanted ceiling. After making sure nobody was inside, he dragged the body in and placed it in a corner.

He exited and closed the door behind him, making his way to the third and final door. Once again he listened carefully for any human sound, but heard none. He tried the knob. Locked. Quickly and quietly, he took out his lock picks and opened the lock, then the door very slightly. In the middle of the room, bound and gagged, sat Maryanna Rivers in a metal folding chair.

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