Danielle confronts the sydicate's agents and meets the 12 leaders of the evil organisation.
This is part 4 of what I expect will be a 12 to 16 part Novel. If you have not yet read any of the previous parts you will have trouble following this story. For those of you that want to proceed without reading any of the previous material, I will give you this bit of background: As this chapter begins, our protagonist, who is a young woman that was given psychic powers and martial arts skills by a space alien, has gone to face her enemy's agents while her boyfriend waits for her a safe distance away.
I hope you enjoy this story and that you will leave me a comment stating your opinion and suggestions.
MOON STONE 4 (Part Four)
Danielle was glad she'd pulled down the face-hood that came with the space suit Gab-el gave her. Not only because it protected her identity but because it kept the assassins from seeing the worried look on her face. After all, this was the first test of her new skills and it was only natural that she would feel apprehensive about facing a team of well armed and well trained mercenaries.
Taking a deep breath, she told herself to relax and remember her training. She recalled her instructors telling her that self confidence was one of the four cornerstones of her “Tower of Power.” That's what they called the source of her strength; a tower of power. A set of skills that was supported by four basic qualities: knowledge, confidence, focus and intuition. She practiced using these qualities during her training and now it was time to put her training to the test.
The mercenaries were also ready and they rapidly deployed their forces by advancing on her position in two columns of 4 men each. They partially flanked her on both sides with the 9th gunman standing at the center-rear of the columns. His job was to guard the Syndicate's Representatives and Danielle would have to run the gauntlet to get to them.
When everyone was in place, one of the Representatives reached into his jacket and pulled out a large, long barreled revolver. The loud click of the cocked hammer signaled the gunmen to begin their assault. In unison the gunmen pointed their guns at the Champion of the light. They intended to end her life in a hail of bullets that would overwhelm her protective suit's force field.
Focusing on her goal, Danielle instantly calculated the exact positions of each gunmen while her subconscious mind prepared a plan of action. 'Star-burst maneuver.' her inner mind told her as she intuitively launched her body into the center of the armed assembly. The gunmen reacted by swinging their weapons to follow her motion but they were totally unprepared for her next move. A psychic command created the illusion that her body split into eight copies, and like an exploding star each copy charged directly at her eight adversaries. Startled by her bold attack, the gunmen instinctively fired their weapons.
The squad leader didn't join his companion's because he knew the advancing figures were psychic illusions. He was charged with guarding the Syndicate's agents so he stood his ground and waited to see what the figure that was charging his position would do. He believed it too was an illusion so he wasn't surprised when it vanished before reaching him. What he didn't know was that the vanishing figure was the real Champion and that while in her camouflaged mode, she jumped over his head, executed a somersault with a half twist and landed behind him in a squatted position.
He didn't hear Danielle land behind him. In fact, he couldn't hear anything but the chattering of eight machine guns firing in front of him. When the chattering stopped, eight startled assassins stood in a mist of smoke. Naturally their bullets all passed through the projected image of the Champion but the bullets didn't go to waste; they found targets on the opposite side of the two columns, a fact that was made abundantly clear when the bullet riddled gunmen fell to the ground in front of the lead assassin.
The squad leader had never seen anything like that before. His best men had all been tricked into killing each other. He was the last man left and the person responsible for killing the others was nowhere to be seen. Confused and filled with fear, the bodyguard tightened the grip on his weapon and took a step back just as Danielle tapped him on the shoulder from behind.
Surprised, the bodyguard turned quickly but in his anxious state he discharged his weapon before making the full turn. The consequences were devastating for one of the Syndicate's agents who was cut in half by the spray of automatic gunfire.
“You idiot!” the remaining Representative shouted as he pumped a round into his own bodyguard's chest.
The impact of the high caliber projectile passed through the assassin's bullet proof vest, lifting him off his feet and threw him to the ground. The sudden departure of the bodyguard exposed Danielle, who was standing behind the mercenary.
The Syndicate's man quickly pointed his gun at her and pulled back the hammer. “Don't move,” He ordered. “At this range even that fancy space suit of yours won't protect you from the armor piercing rounds of my 45 caliber Magnum.”
Danielle didn't move, and the syndicate's agent smiled. “You've fallen into our trap.” He announced with an amused expression. “We knew you'd come to our meeting and confront our forces. We were hoping they'd destroy you but we suspected that you might prevail. That was of no consequence to us since we were quite willing to sacrifice these men in order to capture you.”
Danielle didn't answer, instead she tried to distract the syndicate's agent by projecting an image of his fallen companion. “Help me.” the image cried out, but the syndicate's agent was not deceived.
”That won't work on me.” The agent boasted. “I'm a sixth level psychic and trained to resist your psychic illusions.”
Danielle had been informed about this type of adversary and she was prepared. Though he had been trained in the psychic arts, he knew nothing about the tower of power. He didn't understand that his psychic abilities relied on the faith he had in his own powers so he was vulnerable to a physiological attack. Stepping forward Danielle began working to destroy his self confidence.
“So, you're a sixth level psychics?” Danielle asked with contempt. “I eat sixth level psychics for breakfast.” She informed him with a bold and self assured tone.
Without hesitation she moved towards his revolver. Then she focused all her power and concentrated on blocking just one small part of his body, the nerve that controlled his trigger finger. Pressing her chest against the barrel of his gun, she Telepathically dared him to pull the trigger. The 6th level psychic smiled but his expression quickly changed when he found that he couldn't pull the trigger. Danielle's block was temporary and limited to just one small nerve but that was enough to begin breaking down his confidence.
The Syndicate's Agent began to sweat. He was confused and wondered why he couldn't resist her psychic command. Danielle knew he was weakening and continued her attack by planting a hypnotic suggestion in his mind. “You can't resist me.” She said with an authoritative tone. “Now, give me the gun,” she ordered as she placed her hand on his and using jujitsu wrestled the gun from his grasp. That wasn't a psychic power but the ease with which she took his gun further eroded his confidence.
The Syndicate's agent was now both physically and mentally disarmed and for a split second he panicked and took a step back. That was the signal she was waiting for. Focusing all her psychic powers on the nerves of his spinal column, she temporally paralyzed him from the neck down making him feel completely helpless.
“You can't move.” She announced, “I am in complete control of your mind and body.” Now she was ready to ask the critical question. “Tell me, who are the members of the Syndicate and where are they?” That question seemed to invoke an automatic defensive response in the agent. First he began to shake violently, then he started stuttering making his speech unintelligible.
Knowing that he was not going to be able to speak she issued a psychic order. “Open your mind.” Danielle commanded. “Let me see where the syndicate is hiding.” The agent's defensive wall fell and his expression went blank as a small psychic opening appeared in his forehead. The opening grew and turned into a Whirlpool that continued growing until it drew Danielle's astral form out of her body and into the vortex. For the next several seconds, Danielle felt herself being transported through a long winding tunnel that emptied into a large dark room.
Danielle looked around and saw that the room was mostly empty except for a round table with a glowing Cristal globe sitting at its center. The table was populated by a dozen very elderly looking men and women. They were all dressed in the formal attire of the early 19th century and if it weren't for the fact that they all seemed to be in a trance, they could have been gathered for a dinner party.
“We welcome you, Champion of the Light.” Danielle heard a choirs of voices giving her a telepathic greeting. “We have been expecting you.”
“Expecting me? That sounds like you wanted me to find you?” Danielle asked with an incredulous tone.
“No, we wanted to find you... and we are glad that we were able to lure you to us.”
That reply disturbed Danielle but she didn't take it at face value. After all, deception was one of the Syndicates chief powers and she knew they were trying to play the control game on her.
“Gab-el told me that you were aware of your destiny and knew the time would come when you would be destroyed. I never expected that you would actually welcome me.”
“Unfortunately, you are right about our ultimate fate, but if Gab-el told you that we would go willingly or without putting up a fight, you have been sadly mislead. You are not the first Champion he has sent to challenge us and we are sure you will not be the last.”
Looking around the table, Danielle saw just how truly old the members of the Syndicate were. They looked like living mummies. Their bodies seemed so weak and frail that a stiff breeze would have knocked them over and scattered their ashes.
“I don't want to seem disrespectful or rude but tell me, just how do you expect to defend yourselves? I just demolished a squad of your best assassins. I don't think you can even get up off those chairs. How do you expect to defeat me?”
“We already have.” Came their menacing reply.
Danielle looked at the ancient group and saw that they hadn't moved a muscle since her arrival. A telepathic scan reveal that they were alive but just barely. It seemed to her that these living corpses would need constant attention to keep them from falling apart but there was no one else in or around the room. In fact, there were no doors or windows and the walls seemed to be thousands of feet thick. There was no way anyone could get in or out of this cavern so she had no idea how this group of fossils intended to defeat her.
“As we look into your mind we can see that you think our age makes us weak, but you are mistaken. Our age is the basis of our power. Over the centuries we have amassed sufficient knowledge to acquire and control the wealth of the world and that wealth is the tool we use to dominate and control everything and everyone. Whatever we want, we buy. Whoever we want to serve us we bribe, blackmail or discredit. Nothing and no one can stand in our way. Those that assist us we reward. Those that resist us, we kill. We are the supreme power in this world and have been for centuries.”
“That can't be true. Danielle objected. “Until recently I never even heard of you and I consider myself well educated. You may wield some influence with local governments and business entities but no one can control world. History is full of petty despots that have tied to conquer the world but they have all failed.”
“It's not surprising that you have never heard of us.” The chorus answered. “We move in the shadows and work silently thought surrogates. We encourage the belief that individuals and nations are free to govern themselves but the truth is... There are no governments and there is no freedom. There is only us and the people we control. No Nation or leader can take any action of consequence without our knowledge and consent.
“That doesn't seem possible. You can't force your will on governments and nations. The world is divided and even people of the same race, nationality and religion can't agree and cooperate with each other. How could you possibly get them to obey you?”
“That is exactly how we maintain control, by keeping the world divided. We promote disharmony and keep nations at each other's throats. When nations get too comfortable, we shake up their economies. When they get too friendly we beat the drums of dissatisfaction and march them off to war. When they grow weary of fighting, we broker a peace that changes nothing. When they try to revolt, we spearhead the revolution, move the players around then lead them right back to where they started. We create the illusion of change while leaving everything the same. War, peace, famine and booms are all the same to us. They are just devices we use to control the people and profit from their misery.”
Danielle shook her head. “You think you control the world but look at you. You can't even feed or dress yourselves. You depend on your servants to take care of you but fear them so much that you hide and lock yourselves in this tomb.”
“This is not a tomb, it is an impenetrable fortress carved out of solid bedrock and located miles beneath the earth. We are safe here because no one knows where we are and therefore no one can get to us.”
“Someone must know where you are.” Danielle challenged “You are helpless and need servants to take care of your every need.”
“We need no one to care of us. Our bodies exist in a state of suspended animation and have no biological needs. Our brains are kept in a state of stasis operating in a subconscious mode. The little energy we need is generated by an electro-magnetic source, powered by the movement in the earth's magma-sphere. As long as that glob in the middle of the table glows, we are alive.”
“That doesn't sound like much of a life to me; locked in this cave and tethered to that glob.”
“Oh, you misunderstand. We are not really locked in this cavern. Our consciousness is free to roam the earth. We have a cadre of servants that attend to our affairs leaving us free to pursue our pleasures. As we speak we are all out in the world enjoying our enormous wealth in the bodies of willing surrogates. They allow us to use their bodies whenever and however we want. In turn we allow them to enjoy our wealth.”
“We spend our days jumping from place to place and body to body taking part in whatever activity we desire. Sometimes we invite each other to partake in favorite events. Just yesterday we had an orgy in the bodies of one of our favorite families. We ate and drank our fill while sampling every carnal pleasure you can imagine. When we got bored we killed one of the servants just for the thrill of feeling her warm blood flow through our fingers as we watched the light fade from her eyes.”
Danielle turned her face away in disgust. “You people really are animals.” She observed with contempt. “I'm sure your surrogates wouldn't allow you access to their bodies if they knew what you were doing.”
“On the contrary, we insist on their full participation. You see, as a group, we've already experienced every imaginable pleasure. Naturally, that's made us a bit jaded. But by drawing our pleasures through their awareness we can experience their full range of emotions and share in all the thrills, horrors and delights they feel. That makes everything seem new and exciting to us. However, to maintain the integrity of the illusion, we restrict their knowledge of our participation. We let them think they are responsible for the things we make them do. That makes it even more fun as we watch them go through the heartache and anxiety that accompanies guilt and regret. Sometimes we wagers on how far we must go to drive them to murder or suicide.”
“Then how can you say they are willing surrogates.” Danielle puzzled. “They obviously don't know what they're getting into?”
“We can assure you that they do. We don't force them. We just introduce them to the things that give them pleasure. Then we stimulate their imaginations so they can preview what it would be like to have the things we offer. When they are sufficiently stimulated, we show them how easily they can get anything they want by simply pursuing a systematic program of remorseless self interest.”
“Isn't that just another way of saying greed.”
“Yes, but in our world greed is a desirable quality. It is the corner stone of our way of life. It drives the engine of our economy and provides us with limitless profits. It is the source of our great wealth and power and the basis of our religion. Mammon is our god and he is a great and glorious god. He rewards his followers with material success and all the pleasures that money can buy. He gives us all that we want but demands no sacrifices from us. Mammon is satisfied with the pain and the blood of the poor and the weak.”
“So, Gab-el was right.” Danielle observed. “You have seduced mankind and turned him into a predatory beast.
“Don't be so quick to judge us. Mankind is not our innocent victim. We have no power over them other than the power they give us. They have chosen greed over compassion and it is that decision that has opened the door to our influence. We have not corrupted them. We just service their desires.”
Danielle had heard enough. Now that she knew who the enemy was and how they carried out their plans, it was time to get back to the corporal world were she could do something about this brood of vipers. As soon as she got back she planned to drain the Syndicate's representative of all the information he had about his bosses. Next, she was going to follow the chain of command all the way to the top and extract from them the exact location of this den of iniquity. Then she was going to destroy this brotherhood of parasites and free mankind from their unholy influence.
“Are you thinking of leaving us?” She heard them ask. “You'll find that is quite impossible. You know too much to be allowed to leave.”
“You should have thought about that before you started bragging about your powers and your plans.” Danielle replied. “How will you stop me?” You require others to do your dirty work and there is no one here to help you.”
“You are right. We do require others to do our bidding and that's how we got you here. When you asked our agent to tell you where we were, we instructed him to open a link that allow you to find us. However, for you to return the link must be broken or reversed. We have no intention of letting you go, and you are too far away from our Agent to order him to reverse the link. So you see, you are stuck here with us.”
“There is one flaw in your plan.” Danielle informed them. “Your Agent is a physical entity and he will eventually tire and pass out. When he does, the link will be broken and I will be free to return.”
“Yes, but long before that happens our servants in the police will arrive at the place where your physical body is standing. We have already alerted them about you and as vigilant guardians of your nations security, they will have no qualms about shooting a dangerous terrorist on sight. Once your body has been destroyed, your Astral form will have nowhere to go and you will be trapped here forev...”
The chorus of voices suddenly went silent as a whirlpool formed next to Danielle's Astral form and drew her into the vortex. Once again she felt herself being hurled through space and the next thing she knew, she was standing at the Courthouse parking lot exactly where she was before.
Looking around she saw there were no police officers waiting for her. Instead she saw the body of the Syndicate's agent laying on the ground in a pool of blood. The sounds of someone moaning behind her caused her to turn. Sitting on the ground she found the lead assassin with a smoking machine gun on his lap. He looked dazed as he attended to a bloody shoulder wound.
“That son of a bitch shot me.” The Syndicate's assassin explained. “Luckily the bullet went right through me without causing any major damage.” The gunman shoved a syringe full of morphine into the large muscle above the wound and his eyes rolled back into his head.
That explained who broke the link that allowed her to return from the Syndicate's cavern, but she still didn't know who this soldier was or why he and his men tried to kill her.
“I know we tried to kill you,” The ex-Delta Force Marine replied to her psychic query. “but we were just following orders. He hired us to stop a terrorist attack and we believed him.” Feeling the effects of the pain killer, the soldier stopped to gather his thoughts. “When I saw you were alone and unarmed I started to have doubts but before I could say anything all hell broke loose and the next thing I knew, my men were dead.” The soldier pulled the syringe out of his shoulder and continued. “Lying piece of shit,” he said as he spat at the agent's body. “He got my people killed and then he tried to kill me.”
Danielle picked up her hand to indicate that he should keep silent. Then she listened carefully to the sounds that were coming from the streets. In the distance she could heard police sirens. “You'd better get out of here.” The soldier advised. “Don't worry about me, I've got people on the way that will take care of me.” He said as a small convoy of black Humvee approached the parking lot. “Maybe next time we'll be on the same side.”
Danielle nodded and Jumped on her bike. She kick started the motor and took off to find her boyfriend. When she arrived where she left him, he wasn't anywhere to be found. “Where the hell are you Michael?” She asked herself and got an immediate reply.
“I'm behind the high school, across from the athletic field.” Michael sent her a telepathic message. “Listen carefully Danielle. The cops are closing in on you. They're responding to a terrorist alert so you have to get out of there fast. To avoid the barricades you'll have to go north on Applegate and make a right on Wayland drive. When you get to the high school turn up the driveway opposite the gate, then turn around and use the ramp we left there to jump the fence. Go to the back of the school, cross the baseball diamond and head for the left-field fence. We cut a hole in the chain link for you. I'll see you on the other side... Oh, one more thing. I love you.”
Danielle was a little confused. How was Michael able to transmit his thoughts? Where did he get the information about the police barricades? And who the hell was he talking about when he said “we?”
Clearing her mind, Danielle popped the clutch on Michael's bike and leaped onto Appelgate Avenue. Running though the gears, she soon found herself speeding towards Wayland drive. She could hear sirens blaring all around so she used the echoes bouncing off the buildings to triangulate their positions. Michael was right. Wayland was the best route, but as she zoomed up Applegate she picked up a couple of troopers that quickly gave chase. Up front she saw another police car racing towards Wayland. Her calculations told her she could beat them to the intersection but only if she didn't used her brakes.
About 30 yards from Wayland, Danielle threw her bike into a sideways skid and rode the spark-spewing bike to the middle of the intersection. The pursuing cruisers descended on her at full speed and would have crushed her between them had she not shifted into first gear, straighten her bike and gunned the motor to quickly change directions. As she went flying down Wayland she could hear the police cars crashing behind her. That was good. Not only did it end their pursuit, but it blocked the intersection and prevented other police cars from following.
Everything was going as planed until she approached the high school. Up ahead she could see a line of flashing lights racing towards the school. Danielle determined that she'd get to the school's gate only a few second before the the squad cars. With a little luck she'd be able to go up the driveway, turn around and zig-zag around the police vehicles and still have enough speed to get up the ramp and over the fence... but no such luck.
When the first police vehicle arrived, he followed her up the driveway and stopped just a few yards away. The next two cars pull onto the front yard, one on each side blocking any chance for a lateral escape. Then all the cops came charging out of their vehicles with drawn weapons ordering her to dismount the bike and get on the ground. That was it, she thought, I'm screwed, and not in the good way.
Desperately looking around the driveway, Danielle spotted a garbage-can. Then she scanned the position of every cruiser as geometric figures flashed across her head. Calculating her distance from the fence and the obstacles in her way, it only took seconds for her subconscious mind to come up with a plan. Kicking over the garbage-can she let it roll towards the front of the first police car as she gunned the motor and pulled back on the handlebars. When the front wheel of her bike hit the garbage-can, the bike climbed over the can and onto the hood of the police vehicle. Then up and over the windshield, across the roof, down the trunk and onto the road. Within seconds she reached the school's gate. Another burst of speed got her onto the ramp and over the top of the fence.
The officers were too stunned by her lightning fast maneuvers to take immediate action but once she jumped the fence they all started firing their weapons. Danielle felt the sting of several bullets that bounced off her protective suit. She also heard a few shots slam into the bike. One hit the gas tank but other than causing a major leak they had no effect on the bike's performance.
The bike continued until she reached the left-field fence behind the school, then it died. Fortunately she was close enough to the hole Michael cut in the fence to push the bike through. As soon as she got to the other side she found Michael waiting there as promised. He was standing next to an old beat-up blue Van with the rear doors wide open. There was a ramp leading into the Van so Danielle knew she was expected.
Michael ran to meet his girlfriend and as soon as they met, Danielle pulled back her hood and fell into his arms. They kissed repeatedly giving each other lots of little pecks all over their faces. The pecks ended when their lips met and they enjoyed a long, soulful kiss that culminated in laughter.
“I was so scared,” Michael said while holding her tight.
“So was I.” Danielle agreed. “I thought I was going to die without ever seeing you again. But now that I'm in your arms, I feel so happy and so alive.” Holding Michael's face with both hands she looked deep into his eyes and made a desperate request. “Michael, I need you. I want you now, right now, right here before this moment passes.”
“Hold on you two.” A voice came from inside the Van. “There are kids here. There'll be plenty of time for that later. What you two need to do now is to get that bike in the Van so we can get the hell out of here.”
It took Michael and Danielle less than a minute to push the bike into the Van, pull up the ramp and slam the door shut. Their new benefactor immediately put the Van into gear and sped up the road trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the cops he knew were on their way.
After a few minutes on the road, Danielle asked her boyfriend for introductions. “Pardon me.” Michael said, while waving his arm towards the driver. “This is Rafael and his daughter... I'm sorry I didn't catch your name.”
The girl turned in her chair. She was a little thing, maybe in her early teens with dark brown hair and a red dyed streak that dangled in front of her face.
“Hi, my name is Sara,” she announced while talking so fast that she practically ran all her words together. “but everybody calls me Nina. That means little girl in Spanish. People says I talk too fast but I have to cause I'm the navigator and communications officer. With all that information to relay, I have to talk fast to keep up with all the things I have to say.”
“Nina!” Her father shouted. “Mind your manners.”
“I'm sorry.” she said while giving a little curtsy. Slowing down her speech she said, “Always at your service.”
Returning to his narrative, Michael went on to explain how he met Rafael and his daughter. “While you were confronting the Syndicate, Rafael drove up in his Van. He told me Gab-el sent him and asked me to get in his Van. After I explained the situation he immediately started to formulate an extraction plan just in case anything went wrong.”
“Things always go wrong.” Nina interjected.
“And what about your telepathic message.” Danielle was very eager to know. “When did you lean to do that?”
“Excuse me, but I did that.” Nina interjected again. “It's actually a complex series of algorithms that convert the human voice into bio-electric...”
“Nina!” Her father warned her again. “You can explain that later.” Turning to Danielle he whispered, “Unless you're a math and science geek, you probably won't really want to know.”
“Anyway,” Michael continued. “With Nina's help Rafael prepared your escape-rout and here we are.”
“But how did you know where the cops had their squad cars and where they were going to set up check barricades?”
“That's easy.” Little Nina jumped in again. “The military satellites all have video surveillance and GPS to track anything ....”
“Nina!” Her father stopped her form going any deeper into her explanation. “You know that hacking into government satellite systems is illegal and a breach of national security.”
Nina smiled and got back to her computer.
“Nina is brilliant and a real computer whiz.” her father explained. “I'm really proud of her but sometimes she says more than she should.”
Danielle looked at Rafael and saw the way he looked at his daughter. It was clear they had a very close and loving relationship. It reminded her of her own relationship with her father. Then she noticed that Rafael was sitting in an electric wheel-chair that was latched to the floor behind the driver's seat. He was obviously disabled but that didn't keep him from coming to her aid. Somehow he taught himself to drive by steering with his left hand while using the other to manipulate two leavers that controlled the accelerator and the brake.
“Thank you Rafael.” Danielle said with a slight bow of the head. “You're obviously an extraordinary man with an extraordinary daughter.”
looking at Danielle in the rear view mirror, Rafael returned her smile and nodded his head. “Thank you for the compliment, and as my daughter said, we are always at your service.”
Rafael liked the new Champion and he was very satisfied with the conversation he just had with her. He was grateful that she didn't bring up his disability. He hated that term. He didn't consider himself disabled, he was just a man with special challenges. He learned to deal with them very well so he really wasn't disabled. It was true that he couldn't stand up by himself, but he had no trouble standing up for himself. And he stood up for others too. He stood up for people that needed his help and he stood up against all the things that were wrong in the world and all the evil that needed resisting.
Meanwhile Michael was looking over his badly bruised bike, and he cursed under his breath as he assessed it's condition. “You sure beat the hell out of her.” he told Danielle. “Look at all these scraps and bullet holes. I'll have to take her to the shop first thing in the morning. It's probably going to cost a fortune to get her back in shape.”
“Forget that.” Rafael interrupted. “We'll get you another bike just like that one and swap out the serial numbers. No one can see this bike in the condition it's in. The cops are going to be looking for a scraped up bike with bullet holes and your friends at the shop will be the first ones to turn you in when they hear about the reward.”
“I can't believe that.” Michael protested. “I've known these guys for years.”
“I don't care if they gave birth to you and suckled you at their breast. I don't trust anyone so no one sees your bike until I've cleaned it up. I've already called for a replacement and I'll personally put the new serial numbers on the motor by tomorrow night.”
“Yeah, sure.” Michael said sarcastically. “You just saw this bike for the first time a few minutes ago. It takes time to hunt down a bike like this. It's a limited production model with custom features. It'll take months to find one like it.”
“Tell him Nenita.” The driver asked his daughter while she sat fiddling with her laptop.
Turning in her seat, Nina peeked around the side of her backrest and started speaking in her rapid fire mode. “You have a 1992 Blue-Lighting Yamaha YZ250XL dirt bike with a 249 CC, two stroke, air cooled motor, dual exhaust and a 5 speed racing transmission. It originally retailed for $5,995. but sells used for just under $3,000. I found one on the Internet for $2,499. It belongs to some dude from South Carolina. I offered him $2,250 and he accepted. Bobby and Jose are on their way to pick it up. They'll have it here by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Is that good enough for you, amigo?” Rafael told Michael.
Michael knew that he was on the loosing end of that argument so he kept his mouth shut and put his arm around Danielle. Leaning back he tried to relax knowing that soon they'd be back in Danielle's apartment.
As they drove, Nina continued to flip through her computer screens and then reported to her father. “Pappie,” she said while pointing to the screen. It looks like the police have this whole area cordoned off. The Syndicate really wants to find this Champion. We'd better look for safe haven.”
“Good idea.” her father responded. “What ya got?”
Looking at her computer Nina flipped though several screens and did a few quick scrolls. “There's a an empty house about 4 blocks up on the left.” After a little more reading she continued. “The Nardanie's booked a Mediterranean cruise and won't be back for two weeks.” Nina informed them. “Their utilities have been left on and they're Italian so I'll bet their pantry's stocked.”
“Sounds good to me.” He told his daughter. Looking over his shoulder he addressed his passengers. “You guys up for Italian tonight?”
“What? Michael asked with a tone of shocked indignation. “Are you seriously suggesting that we break into someone's home?”
“Of course not.” Rafael said, mocking Michael's indignation. “You must think we're a bunch of desperate fugitives looking for temporary refuge to avoid being murdered by a gang of overzealous cops.” Turning to his daughter Rafael assumed an exaggerated upper class affectation. “Kindly inform the Nardonie's that we'll be dropping in for a visit and maybe staying the night.”
Ignoring her father's sarcasm, Nina told him that she had just ordered pizzas. ”I ordered a Meat-lovers, a Veggie-lovers and a liter of coke. It'll be delivered in 20 minutes.” Turning to the passengers in the back she added. “Hope you guys like extra anchovies.” When Michael and Danielle made a face she smiled and said, “Just kidding.”
“Okay, here we are.” Rafael announced as he turned into the driveway of a Ranch styled home with a brick facade.
“How did you know it was this house?” Nina asked.
“Plastic flamingos in the front yard.” Rafael replied. “Have you scanned the garage door frequency and turned off their alarm?” He asked, just as the garage door started to lift.
“Way ahead of ya Dad.”
Rafael pulled into the garage and turned off his Van. Nina closed the garage door and Rafael swiveled his chair so he could face his passengers. “We should be safe here tonight. I've never seen the police press this hard but they'll have to take down their barricades and check points before the morning rush. When they do we'll slip out of here and blend in with the morning commuters.”
“I get the feeling you've done this before.” Danielle observed as she stared deep into Rafael's eyes. “Now, please don't get me wrong, and I don't want to seem ungrateful but I need to know a little more about you two. How did you learned about me and why have you've risked yourselves to help us?”
Rafael felt the push of a slight psychic probe and smiled. Most people wouldn't have even noticed but he wasn't most people. “I'll tell what you need to know.” He replied in audible speech. “Gab-el told me about you.”
“Gab-el never mentioned you.”
“That's probably because the last time I saw him, I told him I never wanted to hear from him again.”
“But you came anyway.”
“I guess you can never really stop fighting for the cause.” He confessed with a sad smile.
“Did Gab-el ask you to help us?”
“He didn't have to. He just said the new Champion was in trouble. Then he told me about you.” Turning to Michael he said, “Gab-el said the new Champion had a boyfriend that was brave, foolish and very much in love. He told me that you were at the courthouse and he was afraid you'd try to join the fight and get yourself killed.”
“You called me the new Champion.” Danielle interrupted and waited for Rafael to explain. When he didn't she asked directly. “What happened to the old Champion?”
Rafael looked at Nina and then stared at the floor. When he finally lifted his head, he said, “The old Champion was forced to retire.” After another long pause he continued. “He lost both legs in a fight with the Syndicate's henchmen.” Rafael paused again and took a deep breath. With misty eyes he looked directly at Danielle and added, “When his wife went to help,... they killed her.”