By now most of Hyle's men were dismantling the place and the last three or four girls were on their way out.
One of the guys was struggling with a girl, Mandy, who was one of those reluctant to leave. In front of her was Dinah, staring ahead, her mind a fog of drugs.
Lucy caught Mandy's eye and nodded. Mandy pushed Dinah hard into Ytte Skovland, knocking her bodily off her feet.
Lucy seized her moment, and her revolver and in the confusion, she grabbed the hazed Dinah by the neck.
Ytte got to her feet, but by then Lucy was using Dinah as a shield, gun pressed to her head. Hyle saw the danger.
"Hold!" Hyle yelled, Ytte was raising her gun.
"Yep, that's the way. Y'all take things nice and easy or this lil' whore gits her head blowed off." Lucy snarled.
Hyle held up her hand as some of her men looked as if they were about to rush Lucy, Ytte lowered her gun. Dinah, despite the headlock, was merely staring at everyone vacantly.
Mandy took her place beside Lucy.
"Git th' door to mah office, Mandy," Lucy commanded as she backed her way towards the door. Inside her office was comparative safety.
But more importantly, her money and her client-book 'Fer the blackmailin', should the time come'. In short, the only future she had any hope of salvaging.
"Yes, Aunt Lucy." Mandy complied, looking pleased with herself. She opened the door. Lucy reversed herself and Dinah to the door.
Lucy smiled thinly at Mandy, "Thank ya, sugar." Then shot her dead.
Using the shock this caused as a distraction, Lucy pushed Dinah forward, slammed the door shut, then dropped the locking bars into place
Hyle was horrified. Ytte, no stranger to death grabbed Dinah and gave her to one of the guys to take away. Dinah was looking around herself, at Mandy's body.
Feeling herself the centre of attention, she giggled as the man lead her to the bus.
Hyle's plan, her directive, was nobody should die, especially any of the girls. And now her plan had cost one girl her life. She felt the pang of guilt, and it hurt.
"I've been in there, there's no way out," Ytte shouted. "Hyle. What shall we do?"
Hyle looked around herself. All eyes were on her. She needed to snap out of her shock, Take charge.
Inside, Lucy had her safe open and was stuffing an ancient carpet bag with cash and the precious book. She was cursing Hyle Troy but then found herself laughing, "Stoopid candy-ass bitch!"
Of course, she had a way out, "Ever' evil genius has a sikkert back door, Dun't they?" Lucy tore down the bookshelf, exposing a hatchway to the alley behind Diamond Lil's.
"Jus' gotta loosen this here panel, bust out a few loose bricks. An' Lucy's gonna ride off inter th' sunset!"
"Get that door down!" Hyle snapped, recovering her composure. Chuckles and two others weighed in with their sledgehammers.
"Godammit!" Lucy cursed as the door began to splinter. She fired a few rounds into the wood.
"Wish'n I made this damned hole a bit bigger... I ain't no damned filly no more" She cursed. Lucy was struggling getting her ancient frame through the gap, especially in the decorative dress.
By the time the door caved in, Lucy was outside, leaning back in to grab the carpet bag. Ytte was first through the door, she dived to her left and Lucy's gun roared.
Chuckles followed, and grabbed Lucy's bag, Lucy clung onto it, her feet desperately trying to find purchase to help her pull but Chuckles was far too strong.
Besides that, Lucy saw Ytte, now on her feet coming towards them, gun pointed at her. Lucy's innate sense of self-preservation took over. She had to let go.
Ytte managed to get a few shots off through the hole But Lucy was gone, her car squealing away down the alley.
A partial victory.
Hyle, flanked by Ned toured the building. She remained mostly silent as they looked over Aunt Lucy's former establishment.
Her team had done an excellent job of destroying all useful edifices but enough remained to spell out pretty much what sort of things went on there.
The 'rooms' were clean, that is to say, the rooms where 'business' was carried out, except for the pervading smell of body odour and stale sex.
These, however, were not the rooms that the girls lived in. No, those rooms were squalor itself.
The dampness, the piles of laundry. Sleeping space for five to a room. And drying costumes or underwear dangling like bats from clotheslines stretched from one wall to the other.
Ned kept his peace, listening to Hyle's frequent sighing and the occasional muttered phrase in a language unknown to him.
Ned paused Hyle at the top of the stairs to the basement, well more aptly, dungeon.
"Are you sure you want to go down there?"
Hyle nodded, "I need to have the full story if I have any hope of rehabilitating those girls, Ned."
In the gloom, it was all as Hyle suspected. All manner of sadistic implements hung from hooks. Cages, chains, harnesses. A playground for the perverse, no doubt some kind of hell for the girls.
The one thing Hyle didn't expect though was the room with lights and cameras.
And in one corner in a metal cabinet,
stacked and labelled videotapes filled the shelves sharing their space with packages of Storm and whatever else that was needed to make even the most resistant girl amenable. Hyle turned to Ned.
"Can I trust you to destroy everything in here? Every last thing."
"That I promise, Miss Troy."
Hyle left Ned to his task and returned to Lucy's office on shaking legs, stumbling on the stair at one point, not knowing if what she was feeling was anger, or hate, or revulsion,
perhaps even nausea, probably a mixture of all of those things.
If Lucy Slater's Marshals were anything, it was not loyal. One by one, Hyle interviewed them in Lucy's office, alongside the bar and casual staff.
By the end of the session, Hyle had a reasonable list of places where Slater could have gone to ground.
Perhaps the Marshals were expecting large quantities of pain and the anticipation of that loosened their tongues.
But at the end of each interview, Hyle merely paid their wage for the evening plus a small bonus for being roughed up by Joe's boys. They were employees after all.
Hyle was not there for vengeance. She had come for the girls and to put Lucy Slater out of business. Nothing more.
But the interviews added to Hyle's overall picture of Diamond Lil's.
She did add a little caveat. If they were considering continuing in their former profession, it would be a more than evens bet some of Joe's boys may pay them a visit in the future.
Later, Hyle sat alone.
From Slater's not insignificant fortune, in addition to the wages she had paid out, Hyle set aside a sum for Joe's not inconsiderable assistance in terms of manpower and logistics.
Another considerable sum she set aside for the orphanage, particularly for supporting recent leavers so that they did not fall into the clutches of another Slateresque group.
The rest, she earmarked for The Troy Foundation. The hostel and the clinic were going to be very busy in the next weeks and months dealing with Lucy Slater's appalling legacy.
Which left the book. Hyle sighed and hesitated before opening its leather-bound cover.
It contained not just names, but detailed accounts and transactions. Who did what to whom, when, and how much it cost, plus any extras. All there in fine handwritten detail.
There was a tap on the door. Hyle looked up to see Joe standing there. He crossed to the desk behind which Hyle sat. He just nodded once then simply said,
"You look like shit."
"She got away then."
Hyle simply sighed. She pointed at the pile of cash earmarked for Joe.
"For services rendered."
"I dint' ...."
"Take it, Joe. Do something useful with it, hmm?"
"Oh, and there's this." Hyle pushed the book across the desk.
"In the main, it's just ordinary lonely men wanting comfort. But there's a few surprises. Do what you want with it. I don't want to know."
Joe went to light a cigar then stopped himself, putting it back in its case.
Hyle stood up, put her jacket on and gave a deep, tired sigh.
"I did what I came to do, Aunt Lucy got away. A girl died. I'm going home."