XII – Old Acquaintances
The advanced metropolis lay in ruin, its once awe inspiring architecture and design now turned into piles of rubble, the only vestiges remaining of the grand settlement that it used to be. It had been almost two days since the battle for Haven, two days since the city had been saved from the horrors that had engulfed it. But such was not nearly enough time to change it to any remote image of tranquility or calm. All around the expansive city, in every district, were hundreds of maintenance and repair drones. Large machines and dwarf mining crews moved rubble whilst military personal patrolled the land and skies, the security a hundred times more voluminous than that between East and West Germany had been. As the workers and relief efforts carried out all over the region, the few buildings left in usable form, as well as open spaces, were converted into temporary refugee camps, their packed accommodations filled with displaced citizens and injured fairies. But despite the chaos that was all over Haven, it was an organized one, one that was ameliorated by the skill and dedication of LEP and other fairy operatives from all over the world. With such a massive disaster, efforts from almost every fairy settlement under the earth had been sent, as well as a plethora of supplies, making things bearable for the victims.
Outside the city was the Haven Terminal. Its previously war scarred hangars and loading docks had been quickly cleaned up and put into full function, something that was endemic to the city itself. Hundreds of ships, from assault craft and military drop ships to civilian shuttles and transports, filled the hangars as well as the chute beyond, their forms flying to and from the metropolis. On the ground, the small fleet of human transports offloaded supplies while other fairy craft did the same, the steady flow of materials being distributed with precision and efficiency. It was a hopeful scene, one that marked a turning point for the People.
From the upper end of the magma chute flew an LEP shuttle flanked by two interceptors, its speed no doubt catalyzed by the importance of the individuals within. As they approached the terminal, the other ships quickly removed themselves from their path, allowing for the LEP shuttle to pass through without delay, its fighter escorts breaking off as it did. With the chute behind it, the ship entered Haven city through the large blast doors, emerging from the busy hangars into the even more so busy metropolis.
As the shuttle flew over Haven, Artemis Fowl stared wide eyed through the cockpit window, utterly shocked by the state of the city. He didn’t say a word, mere oratory an impossible means of conveying his feelings, the sheer level of destruction beyond what he had ever seen. He’d watched as the city had burned from the monitors within Opal’s facility, but even that had failed to prepare him for seeing it in person, the ruin that spanned under him seemingly new to his eyes. So much was lost, so much was taken from them, the People, because of one person’s hatred. Even though she had failed in winning the battle, Koboi had nonetheless made her enemies pay a heavy price, one of blood and tears.
Artemis continued to regard the scene before him as the shuttle neared the police plaza, slowing down as it came in for a landing. The genius couldn’t help but grimace at the once beautiful metropolis, now a grotesque vestige of that which once was. Whilst the ship began to land within the plaza square, Artemis clenched his fists. Opal had to be stopped or else countless more would perish, she had to be destroyed before she destroyed the world, and he would give his own life if need be to accomplish it.
As he stood there with a sad look on his face, Holly watched from the rear compartment, understanding in her eyes and fire in here heart. She knew all to well how Artemis felt, and she also shared his sentiments; she would give anything of herself to stop Koboi once and for all.
The LEP shuttle came to a halt as it met the ground, its landing gear catching it softly as it made contact. As the engines powered down, the occupants of the ship approached the doors, which opened promptly. Commander Trouble Kelp took the lead, motioning for the others to follow.
“Let’s get to the command center.” He said. “I’ve mobilized all of our commanding officers as well as important contacts from Atlantis and other settlements. They’re all anxious to hear what you have to say, Quan. Hopefully what you’ve learned from your time in captivity will provide us with enough information to get us a step ahead of Koboi.”
“I hope so as well.” The warlock stated. “However, Opal is not one to be taken lightly. She’s been ten steps ahead of us this whole time, and is no doubt progressing towards her goal at this very moment.”
Trouble nodded as they entered the battered station, a solemn look on his face. “Then we must make haste.”
The group passed through the busy halls of the police HQ, its expanses packed with officers and supplies. The station had undergone extensive emergency repairs since the ending of the assault, though it still had the ubiquitous smell of stale smoke in the air, and the faint markings of destruction on many surfaces. As they made their way to the command center, they passed numerous field hospitals, their spaces crammed with wounded. Such was greatly ameliorated by the arrival of the Atlantis reinforcements, which had a fully decked medical platoon. Now the injured were being treated quickly and effectively by the new medical warlocks as well as the others that had found the time to recharge their magic levels. Despite everything that had happened, things were starting to look up.
The eight figures reached the doors to the command room after a few minutes of travel through the hectic halls of the building, stopping as they arrived.
“Look sharp everyone, we’ve got all the top brass in here.” Trouble said authoritatively.
With that, the doorway opened, Kelp ushering them all in behind him. The room had been heavily modified over the last few days, replacing the damaged equipment with new ones, as well as organizing a makeshift conference area on one end. It was well lit, the red tinge of emergency lights now absent, replaced by the glow of hundreds of screens and consoles, as well as the repaired lighting overhead. There were dozens of officers monitoring sensors and readouts, staying vigilant against any coming threats. On the far side of the room were several dozen figures conversing amongst each other as they waited around the improvised conference section. Each was at least a Major in their respective fields, as well as highly decorated for their service. Amongst them was General Winters, as well as several commanding officers from the allied forces, though there was a noticeable gap between the human and fairy individuals, the People’s stigma still present. Others included Commanders from Atlantis and other settlements, including members of covert divisions within the LEP, such as Section 8. With them, working determinedly at an advanced collection of systems, was the technical genius, Foaly. It appeared as though they had moved his ops booth back into the police plaza, no doubt as per orders from the disgruntled top brass who had been relatively upset with the massive break of regulation. Nonetheless, they had little choice but to wave their fingers at the centaur, knowing all to well that he was far more important than they were. The look on the centaur’s face was rather pleased; he’d gotten a raise.
As the group entered the room, everyone’s attention switched to them, the chamber falling into silence. They’d all heard of what had transpired, the actions of the new entrants having resulted in the destruction of Opal’s main facility. Such a task would have taken hundreds if not thousands of soldiers and countless casualties in order to accomplish by conventional means, and yet these few managed to do so in record time without a single loss. They were, though some grudgingly, very impressed.
Such lack of activity slowly faded as the two groups met each other, the leaders exchanging pleasantries with both their men and there allies, as well as a few shaking of hands. Kelp conferred with his officers whilst Commander Ivankov did the same wit his own, leaving Butler and Artemis to speak with the warlocks, though the genius was rather insecure due to his abysmal attire. I seriously should have had them stop by the Manor on the way, this suit is in egregious condition, not worthy of a Fowl. He thought as he looked around the room, noting the rather professional dress code of the rest of the occupants.
Mulch didn’t participate of course, instead opting to steal a few items whilst everyone else was distracted. The brief meeting was coupled with Foaly almost squeezing the life out of a rather hug resistant Holly yet again. General Winters stood up, grinning widely at Kelp. “Well I’ll be damned, they sure kicked their mongrel hides into oblivion.”
“Indeed they did.” Trouble nodded. He looked around at the others before speaking aloud. “Alright everyone, let’s get this debriefing started. Foaly, the map please.”
“Oh, right of course!” The centaur said, letting Holly out of his bear hug. As the others sat down, Foaly went over to his station, bringing up a large map onto the display. The image outlined several locations, including Opal’s now ruined base and the magna rails.
“Captain, would you please inform us of the series of events that took place after you were cut off from the main body of our forces.” Trouble said , looking to the elf expectantly.
“Yes sir.” She said firmly. She began at the beginning, from the tunnel collapse to the supply trains, carefully detailing the events so that it gave the most accurate picture of what occurred. As she went into the parts concerning Opal’s facility, many faces went grave, no doubt effected by the sheer power that the pixie now possessed. After a while, Holly reached the end of her account.
“Artemis managed to free Quan and No1 from Opal’s magic, allowing them to remove themselves from the reactor system. This subsequently caused for the magical tear to become unstable, resulting in an explosion that both sealed the tear and utterly destroyed Opal’s facility. We managed to escape via teleportation, with which we ended up on a small island within the Indian Ocean which we were eventually extracted from. Which brings us to now.”
The occupants of the room all thought amongst themselves, no doubt impressed by the actions that resulted in such a victory. Some were skeptic about the whole thing, but were nonetheless proven wrong by the facts that Foaly displayed on the monitors.
Trouble nodded at Short. “Thank you Captain.” He looked to Foaly, who took the cue.
“The recount checks out.” The centaur stated. “I’ve run scans on the areas and verified the site of Opal’s facility. The explosion caused for a slight shift in the tectonic plates in the region, resulting in several earthquakes in the ocean as well as magma flares, though they were not large enough to cause tsunamis. We’ve also found and eliminated the magna-rail facility underneath the ruins of the twelve wonders, though the tunnel beyond was already half collapsed.”
General Winters spoke up. “I believe I speak for all of us when I ask how Opal Koboi managed what she has. If her powers are as they said they are, and conventional weapons are useless, what will it take to vanquish her?”
Trouble nodded, his face hard at the mention of the nefarious villain. “That, I will leave to Quan. Over the length of his imprisonment, he has been able to learn Opal’s plans and how she managed to contrive them.” He looked to the warlock, who was seated patiently beside No1 and Artemis.
Quan nodded to Kelp before standing up, looking to the others around him. “I would advise for everyone to get comfortable, this may take a while to explain.” The aged warlock waited as everyone shuffled around, situating themselves to face the speaker. After a few seconds, he continued.
“As you all know, Opal Koboi has returned from the dead and subsequently started an all out war with the People. What you may not know is that her actions thus far have simply been a small and optional component of her overall plan. If she accomplishes it, nothing in the world would be able to stop her.” He paused, reading his audience. “But before I get into that, I believe it wise to start at the beginning.”
“Opal’s ability to escape the afterlife as well as the acquisition of her current powers are the result of an ancient artifact, one that dates before even the People’s recorded history. This relic is in the form of archaic manuscripts, ones that were created for the sole purpose of power and destruction. Through some probing during my imprisonment, I was able to find that they were crafted by a group of warlocks, ones that were poisoned by greed and a ruthless desire for power. These warlocks possessed levels of magic that dwarf my own, and they used it for evil, to weaponize magic itself into a cruel instrument of war. But despite their powers, there was one enemy that they all feared, death. They saw death as the only obstacle to their goals, thus they made steps to defeat it. This resulted in the creation of the artifact that Opal now possesses, one that allowed her to return to this realm and to harness great levels of dark magic. Thought I don’t know where or how she found it, I know that she used it before her attempt to annihilate humanity several years ago as a contingency plan. It works by forming a link between the underworld and ours, creating a lifeline for the individual that would allow them to climb out of the realm of death and into the one of the living. In order for the link to work, it needed to be attached to a magical source on the other side of the spectrum to act as an anchor. That was us. She managed to use No1 and I as the anchor, and even we couldn’t notice its presence, such is its power. Therefore, after she died, she came back, and subsequently began her plans anew.”
Artemis raised an eyebrow. “I assume that you two are thus what is holding Opal to this realm? If you were to remove the spell, would she not be pulled back?”
“Yes and no.” Quan replied. “We are important pieces to her link to this earth, however now that she is in this realm, we are no longer needed to keep her here. It is rather the manuscripts themselves that keep allow her existence. In order to defeat her, these artifacts need to be destroyed, which brings me to the next part. The warlocks that created this relic didn’t stop with that, of course. They knew that they couldn’t just allow for such power to go unchecked should someone other than them acquire it. In order to provide a countermeasure, they made a secondary piece, a dagger. This dagger was their fail safe, the one contingency to their power should it fall into the wrong hands, which would cause for the world’s destruction. I know what you’re thinking, and no, the manuscripts themselves do not possess this power, they alone are but a piece to a larger puzzle, one that was made to provide endless power to the warlocks should they be defeated. They called it The Gate, platitudinous I know but then again at that time it seemed rather clever. Anyway, this gate as they called it was their ace in the hole. The manuscripts were linked to it, in them the location and means of unlocking it, though such things are protected by intricate safeguards that Opal is no doubt undoing as we speak. Thankfully she only discovered the Gate’s existence two weeks ago, otherwise she would have found it already and we’d all be dead. Her original plan was to simply come back and wage all out war with her new powers, using them to manufacture the artificial souls that she uses to power her armies. She was under that impression up until she noticed something within the manuscripts, something more, something of immeasurable power. She was attracted to it instantly, and since then has been planning to use it.”
“And what is this gate?” Commander Ivankov asked seriously as he watched the warlock.
Quan nodded, clearing his throat again. “The Gate itself is so old that it was a mystery even to the warlocks of that time. They didn’t know its origins or true purpose, but they figured out what it could do with the right amount of leverage, thus the manuscripts. This ancient gate is without doubt the most powerful thing in the world, if not beyond. To surmise, it grants the one who opens it limitless power, the power to destroy worlds. It does this by making the user a giant magical magnet, therefore attracting every drop of magical energy in the world. With this, the being would be able to absorb all of the magic in the earth, and then even more from the space beyond. The power hungry warlocks thankfully never lived to attain it themselves. They were, by the power of virtually every other magical being of that time, destroyed, their plans discovered by the fairies of old. But in their defeat they managed to save some of their inventions, scattering them around the world, including the means to open the Gate. Such power would destroy every magical being, and doom this earth, and that is precisely what Opal wants. She is done with her grand images of being worshiped and adored by the world, she is finished with the ideology of ruling the people of the earth as their all mighty queen. Now, she simply wants to kill everything, to eliminate all life. Such is the extent of her madness, the sheer level of utter rage and hatred that has clouded her mind and driven her over the edge into the abyss of dark insanity. There is no negotiating with her. She will make no compromises, she will show no mercy, not a single shred of it! If we don’t stop her, everything will be gone forever.”
Silence hung in the air, the tension around the room so tangible one could cut it with a knife. Everyone was frozen with shock at the horrors that had been revealed, the doom that Opal possessed now looming over them all. The officers and generals were well disciplined, but even they couldn’t hide the fear that crept its way into their minds, their years of training and experience never preparing them for such a threat, one that was beyond evil; It was purely insane.
Artemis was less so shocked, he had predicted that Opal would go for something like this in the end. Yet all the same, it was terrifying. So that’s what Koboi was hiding from me. He thought. All along the war was a game, her real plan one that would end everything much faster.
The boy looked about the room, noting the silence of everyone else and the presence of dread on their faces. He turned to Quan. “This dagger, do you know where it is?”
The warlock frowned. “No, sadly I don’t.” He paused, considering something. “However, neither does Opal. In fact, she doesn’t even know it exists.”
Artemis nodded, understanding immediately. “It’s hidden from her.”
“Yes.” Quan stated. “Because the dagger was meant to be a contingency should the manuscripts fall into enemy hands, the user of their powers is blind to the presence of it, that way it remains a secret only known by its creators. I was able to probe the magical streams and gain knowledge of it only because I was not linked to the other artifact. Opal, on the other hand, is unaware that this piece exists. That is the one advantage we have over her.”
“So if we attain this arcane dagger, how exactly does it help us find the Gate, or Opal for that matter?” Holly inquired.
Quan grinned. “Why the dagger of course! Each of these three pieces, the gate, the manuscripts and the dagger, are pieces to one puzzle, and thus are linked to each other. Because of this, the dagger itself will have a metaphysical connection to the others, with which we can find the location of the Gate. Once we do that, we can beat her to it, and stop her when she arrives. I know it would be better to find her instead, but her powers a blocking the signal from the manuscripts, something that the makers didn’t intend, yet has occurred. It goes to show how everything has its flaws. Anyway, we must find the dagger. Only then can we hope to stop Opal Koboi.”
“The question is, where?” Butler rumbled.
Where indeed. Artemis thought, thinking silently for a moment before speaking. “Quan, can you, by chance, give me a description of this artifact?”
“I can do more than that.” The warlock stated. He made a quick gesture with his hands, eliciting a faint stream of magic which took to the air. The blue energy swirled for a moment before forming into a three dimensional image. The magical picture depicted the form of an ancient looking dagger. It was relatively simple in design if not unimaginative, though it was lined with arcane glyphs that ran down the blade. Quan grinned. “Just another trick I know, putting thoughts into physical form, quite simple really.”
Artemis smiled, a plan already formed in his mind. “Foaly, can you copy that image and put it onto your display, as well as a communicator please.”
The centaur made a few simple clicks. “Done and done, though I’m not finding any information on it anywhere.” He said perplexedly.
Artemis nodded. “Excellent.”
The boy stood up and walked over to Foaly’s control center, grabbing the communicator that was beside the main console. Upon picking it up, he began manipulating the controls, an almost smug look on his face. As everyone watched him curiously, Holly raised an eyebrow.
“What exactly are you doing Artemis?” She asked curiously.
The prodigy grinned. “Making a call.”
A phone rung in the cluttered room, its sound bouncing around the enclosed space. The room, what appeared to be a private study, was highly organized, yet there was simply too much stuff to fit properly. Objects ranging from high tech surveillance equipment to several immaculately clean firearms lined the walls, along with numerous books, computers and screens. As the phone continued to ring, the thick steel doorway swung open, through it stepping a rushed looking man. He was in his late fifties, the signs of old age beginning to show up on his bearded face. He was an average sized man, his aging frame nonetheless straight and healthy, though he was a bit on the heavy side. He wore an old but good looking suit, a pair of pince-nez on his nose and an worn berret on his head. He walked over to the cell phone, picking it up fluidly as he adjusted his glasses.
“Hello?” He said, his wise voice coupled with a German accent.
“Mr. Eichelberger. It’s been a while.” A young but intelligent voice said smoothly.
The man grinned. “Artemis Fowl, I’d recognize that enunciation anywhere. It’s good to hear your voice.” He quickly left the room, walking into a larger area that was filled with light, closing the security door behind him. The outside room was wide, filled with numerous historical pieces and works of art, as well as a number of expensive lounge chairs.
“The feeling’s mutual Friedrich.” Artemis said cordially. “Though I have not called to chat. I have need of your services.”
The man plopped down into an old chair by a burning fireplace, two ancient sets of Chinese armor standing on either side of it and a Cézanne painting above. He casually sipped from the crystal wine glass that was on the table beside him.
“Of course. A Fowl never calls a contact on their work phone just to chat.” The old man grinned. “So, what can I do for you?”
“I need to locate a specific item, an ancient dagger to be precise.” Artemis stated.
“Ah.” Friedrich said. “I assume you have a description for me?”
“Indeed.” Artemis said. “You should be receiving a digital reconstruction of it on your phone.”
The man’s phone beeped, informing him of a received file. He opened the package, revealing an image of the dagger. Friedrich squinted curiously.
“Interesting.” He said. “This looks rather familiar. Please, wait a moment while I check something.”
“Of course sir.” Artemis said patiently.
The man removed himself from the chair, finishing off the glass of wine before walking back to the secure room at the far end of the gallery. Upon entering he closed the door behind him, making his way to a series of computers and old stacks of papers. Sitting down in a leather chair, Friedrich transferred the file to his system, simultaneously opening a filing cabinet below it. After a few minutes of sorting, he came up on the folder of interest, taking it out carefully. He blew the dust from it before opening it, removing its contents as he turned his attention to the system again. After a few seconds, he switched the phone to speaker, setting it on his desk.
“Mr. Fowl, I believe that you may be in luck.” He said. “Though there are zero instances of it on the internet or in any historical database, I have found something through my personal archives.”
“Go on.” Artemis said.
Friedrich grinned. “Being in this specific line of work, I have a decent knowledge of the belongings of some rather dangerous people, but of course you already know that. This dagger that you’re looking for, I was able to match its markings to a particular dig site within the Pangaion Hills in Greece. Though the dagger itself was not among them there were several other pieces, a few slabs of stone with carvings and an ancient scroll case. They were discovered several years ago by a group of archeologists, though for some reason they disappeared and were never able to publish their findings. Anyway, the significance of this is that I did some work for a small crime syndicate a few weeks after the event, pointing them to that area. Their boss was rather infatuated with historical pieces, and wanted to search the region for anything worth stealing for his collection. I managed to find him an untouched tomb buried near the first site, so he and his crew dug it up. You know what he said after he finished there? He said he’d found a pretty attractive knife, even described it over the phone. From what he said, I think that such was no coincidence. I believe that he has what you’re looking for.”
“His name.” Artemis asked politely.
“Antoine Mousseaux, he resides in Southern France, North of Guillaumes.” Friedrich stated. “You looking to buy it from him, or are you going to assume a more diplomatic approach?”
“That is entirely up to him.” Artemis said placidly. “Anyway, I appreciate your assistance, the money will be wired to your account shortly.”
“Always a pleasure Mr. Fowl.” Eichelberger said with a grin. “Be sure to tell your father I said hello.”
“Of course old friend, goodbye.” Artemis said friendlily.
Police Plaza – Command Room
Artemis put down the communicator, a smug grin on his face. The others knew that look, it was the kind that the boy made when a plan came together. Commander Kelp spoke up.
“Well mud boy, what is it?” He demanded, growing tired of the smug visage.
Artemis grinned wider. “I have traced the knife to a certain small time crime boss named Antoine Mousseaux. He lives in Southern France. Foaly, get us the details.”
“On it.” The centaur said, typing away on his console.
General Winters looked flabbergasted. “How did he find it and we couldn’t, we’re the LEP for Frond’s sake!”
Artemis smiled his vampire smile. “Connections my dear General, connections.”
Holly and Butler grinned, enjoying every second of Artemis’ genius. There was never a dull moment around him that was for sure.
“Here we go.” Foaly called over his shoulder.
Everyone turned their attention to the centaur, who was reading several lines of data.
“Alright.” Foaly said, clearing his throat. “Antoine Mousseaux, born in Paris, 1975. 37 years old. He’s a member of a small crime syndicate based in France called the Le Baron. Was imprisoned for dug trafficking in the mid nineties, got out a few years later, has been under the radar ever since. He’s got green eyes, black hair and likes to watch Oprah believe it or not.”
“Just cut to the chase Foaly, where can we find him?” Holly said impatiently.
“Let’s see…” Foaly started. “He has a private villa in the Western Alps, directly East from the town of Jausiers. It appears that there’s some recent news about it in the mud man papers…oh.”
“What?” Trouble demanded.
“It seems as though someone beat us to him. Look at this.” Foaly said, worry in his voice. He brought up several images to the displays. They were crime scene photos of a large, burnt out house, its once grand form now withered and charred. The interior was completely destroyed, along with the five bodies that were in the lounge. Whoever had done it, they were beyond serious.
“What are the chances that it was Opal?” Trouble growled, his mood taking a turn for the worse.
“I doubt it.” Borislav stated. “It’s a textbook drug deal gone wrong.”
“Indeed.” Butler added. “They are situated on the one end of the table, all facing it. They were meeting someone, and had the goods laid out. The shell casings are all on the other side, as well as several empty magazines, plus the corpses are all holding their own weapons. Clearly they messed up the deal, and the others drew first.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “Seriously, why do we have to get tangled up with these sort of mud men all the time? I had enough with the Spiro incident.”
“I think it’s a good thing.” Artemis said, a grin on his face as he eyed a specific picture of a partially intact cigar. “Because I know who did this.”
“And how is that? Are you sure?” Trouble said.
“Absolutely.” Artemis replied. “As you can see, whoever did this was there for a deal. Mr. Mousseaux was likely inexperienced to dealing narcotics and probably tried to skim a little off the top. He paid the price. After eliminating the people inside, the second party then looted the building of all its valuables, then torched it. What interests me is the method of lighting it on fire. They clearly doused everything with gasoline, after which leaving a trail to the exterior. What lit the gas was a Cuban cigar, more specifically a Cohiba Esplendido.”
“So? There are plenty of crime lords who smoke Cubans.” Trouble retorted, not at all willing to make a move with simply a cigar as evidence.
“Yes but only one operates in that area and tends to do things himself instead of having trigger men do it for him. He’s also quite fond of doing cliché things like burning a mansion by tossing a lit cigar into it, so that’s even more proof.” Artemis stated placidly.
“Alright, fine.” Trouble said, acquiescing. “Who’s our guy then, if your hunch is correct?”
“It’s not a hunch, it’s a fact.” Artemis said smoothly. “And he just so happens to be one of my father’s old acquaintances.” The boy gave the smug grin yet again. “Jack Sawyer.”
South of Lucerne, Switzerland
The Alps stretched onward into the distant horizon, its snow capped mountains rising above the earth like sleeping giants, the trees covering their bases tiny specks amidst a sea of colossal beauty. The sky was crimson as the sun began to fall below the distance, the white clouds cast pink and gold by the setting star. A gentle wind blew in between the mountains, like water weaving between rocks, its gentle force swaying the trees and blowing loose snow from the great heights, the white particles forming wisping clouds that slowly dispersed into the air, like spirits fading from the earth. There were a few roads running into the hills, but against the size of the world around them, they were but small scratches on a gigantic surface.
Deeper into the range was a winding dirt road, its faint line weaving through the trees as it climbed the great hills. The road emerged onto a plateau about halfway up a mountain, though still below the tree line. The flat area was covered with deep green grasses and clumps of trees, the dirt road running past them as it went its way. Up in the mountain above ran a glacial river, its pure water falling from a cliff into a small lake that was cradled by the plateau, its perfectly clear waters surrounded by nature. The soft mountain breeze passed over the flat area, rustling the grasses gently, rippling the glass like surface of the lake as it rose again into the air. Everything was peaceful, the only sound that of the wind and the content calls of tree frogs and crickets.
Near the middle of the plateau was a large chateau, the building residing on a slight hill as it overlooked the scenery around it. It’s design incorporated Victorian era architecture as well as a bit of modern flare, making it look slightly like a castle, but comfortable and extravagant at the same time. Despite its size, it didn’t impede on the nature around it, but rather seemed to coexist, the building surrounded by grasses and a few trees, the main entrance the only extension. The road passed through an iron gate between a low stone wall that encompassed the front parking lot. The paved area had several garages as well as a fountain in the middle, its elaborate design fitting to the chateau behind it. Parked throughout the courtyard were numerous vehicles of varying makes. Some were black trucks and cars, whilst others were luxury vehicles or high end sports cars. They were all empty with the exception of one, a black SUV that had just arrived and had pulled up beside the staircase that led up to the mansion’s entrance.
As the vehicle’s engine switched off, the passenger door swung open, from it stepping Jack Sawyer. The tall man was in his early forties, but he looked like he was still below thirty-five, his handsome features defined and smooth. He had short, light brown hair and bright blue eyes, and not a single hair on his face. He wore an immaculately black Brioni suit and a pair of dark Oxfords, everything in perfect order. Despite his seemingly young features, he had the look of a professional, his eyes cold and serious. Jack looked at the mansion before him, grinning as he closed the van door behind him.
“It’s good to be back.” He said to himself, checking the time on his Rolex as he walked up the steps, the wind blowing slowly through the courtyard. As he reached the top of the steps, the large oak doors swung open. Two guards stepped out, both dressed in matching suits, nodding to Sawyer.
“Gentlemen.” Jack greeted, entering the mansion as the two guards stepped aside, closing the door behind him.
The main foyer was large, its wide expanse leading to two curving staircases that ran along the sides of the room to the second floor. In the middle was the main hall, the wood floor running along with painting covered walls. He proceeded to walk down the hallway, eventually coming up on a large set of double doors. Pushing them open, he emerged into a large room, the sounds of laughter and conversation in the air. The chamber was several stories high, its walls white and laden with decorations ranging from paintings and animal heads to swords and tapestries. Around the room were a variety of couches and chairs, and a long oak dining table at the far end with at least fifty seats. Behind the table was a sizable fireplace, alight with warm flames. Throughout the luxurious room were numerous men and women, most relaxing and enjoying beers and smokes, conversing amongst themselves. The moment Jack entered, however, everyone stopped.
The silence was one of respect and reverence as everyone stood up to recognize their leader. Jack simply waved to them casually.
“As you were.” He said simply. The room’s occupants went back to their conversations, the mood changing once more to one of ease. Though Sawyer made the effectiveness of his operatives one of his top priorities, he also made their well being another. The ones inside the lounge were simply taking their designated breaks, something that Jack saw as a necessity. It was all about morale, keeping the troops happy but disciplined, so of course they needed some time to cool off from their regular criminal activities.
Sawyer took out a cigar, lighting it placidly as he walked to the side of the room. A large man, dressed in a suit and almost seven feet tall, came up to him cordially.
“Ah, Victor, it’s good to see you.” Jack said friendlily to his right hand man.
“Welcome back sir, how did the operation go?” He asked in a deep, gravelly voice. He had a distinct Serbian accent, and a very stern face. He was well built with dark brown hair and green eyes. His face was tough and solid, a scar running down the right side from his eyebrow to his jaw, making him look even more imposing.
Jack grinned. “Better than expected actually. The idiots tried to trick us, so we took them out. In the end, we kept our money and acquired several million in product, as well as millions more in assets from their residence. I had most of the loot distributed to our market contacts, they’ll pay top dollar for much of it, though I held onto a few things, figured we could use some more Picasso in the billiard room.”
The massive man nodded, taking up stride beside Sawyer as he walked through the room.
“What’s the status of our trade operation with the Russian Mafia? I trust that the the shipment arrived on time and unspoiled?” Jack asked as he exhaled cigar smoke.
“They contacted us earlier today.” Victor stated. “The product was to their standards and they informed me that the payment would be transferred to the offshore accounts once they fully processed the goods.”
“Excellent.” Sawyer grinned “That’s the sixth shipment in a row that went perfectly. I gotta tell you, Interpol really sucks these days, not even a challenge anymore.”
The crime boss walked up to the fire place, looking into the flames as he took a drag from his cigar. He blew out the smoke, a wide grin on his face.
“Their place made quite the bonfire, the local police were in quite the kerfuffle. Mind you they’ll never find any prints or DNA, and none of the casings or mags had any traceable aspects. I made sure to use a fresh cigar just in case, a waste I know, but a small price to pay for theatrics and anonymity.”
“By the way sir.” Victor rumbled. “We’ve been interrogating the rat that was discovered in your absence. I have to admit, he’s a tough one, never even flinched when we used the chemicals.”
“Excellent, I do love a challenge.” Jack said dangerously. His hand fell to his waste, brushing against an object within his pocket, piquing his interest. “What the…oh yeah.” He said, pulling out the dagger. “I almost forgot about this little gem.” He examined the blade, his eyes running along the glyphs that covered it, cocking an eyebrow as he did. “I’ve got a great feeling about this piece. Something tells me it’s important.”
The man looked to the fireplace. “But of course, I have a prisoner to interrogate.” He said calmly. “I’ll just leave you here for now.” Sawyer placed the old artifact upon the mantle, looking at it one last time before turning back to Victor.
“Alright.” He said, his eyes narrow and predatory. “Let’s see just how tough this guy really is.”
Police Plaza – Command Room
A series of high quality surveillance photos flashed onto the monitors, the figure of Jack Sawyer depicted in each one. Artemis stood in front of the rest of the room’s occupants, the images behind him.
“Jack Sawyer”. He began, capturing the attention of the audience. “Head of the European based crime syndicate called the Chimera Firm. It’s a relatively lean and efficient group, with approximately one thousand sworn in members divided amongst several key operation zones in Europe, Western Asia and the United Kingdom. They tend to carry out business with as little feuds as possible, working jointly with many of the major syndicates including the Russian and Sicilian mafias as well as the Triads and Yakuza. The Firm does virtually everything, from arms smuggling and narcotic production to human trafficking and high profile heists. I know all of this because my father did business with them, as I mentioned before, though he’s been out of the loop for a while now.”
“Now allow me to give a short biography of Mr. Sawyer. He was born in New York in 1970, though he was abandoned by his neglectful parents at the age of six, leaving him on his own in the streets of Manhattan. There he managed to survive for several years through pickpocketing and robbery, he even had to kill a few people before he was eight, individuals who sought to molest him mainly. At the age of ten he caught the eye of the Gambino family, one of the Five Families of New York City, and was taken under their wing. They saw potential in him, so they drove him hard. Over the course of the next twelve years he managed to climb his way to an officer position within the family, committing almost every crime one could commit in the process. He got shot on several occasions, stabbed on even more and was almost blown up on another, but, as my father told me, nothing stopped him from attaining his goals. Eventually he retired from the Gambino Family, respectfully resigning in order to pursue his ambitions overseas. With the skills he’d acquired from working for the American Mafia, he quickly formed the Chimera Firm in Europe and became one of the most powerful people in the region. When he was in his late twenties he did business with my father for the first time, which started a rather beneficial partnership that lasted until the Arctic incident, which explains how I know him so well. My father made it a point to instruct me on the family business, and that meant knowing all the players.”
Holly frowned. “So he’s the one who now possesses the dagger, a mud man who just so happens to be a member from your criminal past. Given his upbringing, I think we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
“Indeed we do.” Artemis responded. “However, I excel at dealing with individuals of his caliber. The fact that he knows my father should also make things easier, hopefully we can make a deal.”
General Winters looked impatient. “Why not just drop a bio bomb on these mongrels, making a deal with them is simply ludicrous!”
Artemis sighed. “I’m sorry but I don’t share your war mongering sentiments, and neither do any of the humans within this room. Even if you did, the use of such a device would draw Opal’s attention, which we cannot afford right now.”
“I trust you have an idea as to where the dagger is specifically.” Trouble stated.
“Of course.” Artemis said, keying in a few things on his communicator. The screen switched to a satellite image of a mansion and the surrounding area. The genius looked again to the listeners. “His main headquarters is located at his private estate in Switzerland, on a plateau in the Alps.”
Commander Ivankov cocked an eyebrow. “That’s in close proximity to our facility. It would be best if you operated from there.”
“And we will.” Artemis added. “But first we need to clarify our course of action. I propose that I, along with Butler, have a civilized meeting with Sawyer. He’ll sell the dagger for the right price, and Foaly should be able to create some very convincing money for that. Of course, I’d like to bring Captain Short and Mr. Diggums along as well. I feel that they are the best suited for this sort of situation, having done so in the past. They will be required should things get out of hand.”
Holly nodded, anticipation already in her eyes. “I agree, I’ll back you up Artemis.”
“Same here kiddo.” Mulch grinned. “I always like it when we get tangled with other criminals.”
Trouble didn’t look very convinced. “So you and Butler are just going to walk in there and buy it from them? If things go wrong, it would be you four against who knows how many others. I could have a retrieval team come in and knock them all out before they know what hit them.”
“Maybe.” Artemis said smoothly. “But this is the sort of dilemma that requires a scalpel, not a hammer.” The boy grinned mischievously. “Besides, I am a criminal mastermind after all. Working with crime syndicates is something I mastered before I was ten.”
Trouble frowned, slightly vexed by the human. He turned to General Winters. “General, what do you think?”
The rough elf waved his hand dismissively. “Let him do it. I think it wise to let them deal with their own kind. Besides, our soldiers are spread thin as it is, I’d rather not throw our best at a bunch of heavily armed barbarians.”
Commander Ivankov rose his hand. “No need to worry for their safety commander. If they get into trouble I can bail them out.”
Trouble scrunched his face in contemplation, looking to the screen once more. After a few moments of consideration he nodded. “Alright, you’ve got the green light, just try not to get yourselves killed.”
“Not a problem.” Butler rumbled, his intimidating form looming over everyone else.
Artemis grinned his vampire grin. “Excellent. We should move out immediately.” He looked down at his clothes. “Though a change in attire is warranted, we can’t go about this dressed in rags.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Borislav said. “I’ll have an Armani for each of you when we arrive at our headquarters.”
Artemis didn’t show it, but he was extremely relieved to hear that he would eventually be liberated from the abysmal clothing that he was doomed to wear for a few more hours. It was one of his worst nightmares having to do business is such unprofessional dress.
“Does anyone else have any concerns?” Kelp asked. When everyone abstained, he nodded his head. “Alright then.” He turned to Holly. “Keep an eye on them Captain. Be sure to keep us updated.”
Holly stood straight, saluting the Commander. “Yes sir!”
Trouble then looked to Artemis and Butler, who were visibly eager to get going. For a moment he hesitated, a bit of embarrassment flashing across his face. “Good luck, we’re counting on you.”
Artemis nodded to Kelp, slightly amused by the elf’s grudging complement. “Much appreciated.” He then turned to Ivankov, who was speaking to several of his men on the other side of the room. “Commander, how soon can we leave?”
The middle aged man checked his communicator. “I’ve got a light transport on standby. We can leave immediately.”
Artemis grinned. “Excellent.” He brushed himself off absentmindedly as he looked to Butler with obvious appreciation. “Are you ready, old friend?”
The bodyguard nodded calmly, his face determined. “Always.” The man’s expression changed to one of consideration for a moment as he checked his phone. “However,” He rumbled, “There’s a call I must make before we leave.”
Artemis grinned. “By all means friend, take your time.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Butler responded, dialing a number. “This will only take a second.”
As it dialed, he walked to an empty corner of the room. He put the phone to his ear, waiting as it rung on the other side. After a moment it picked up, a strong female voice answering. “You need something?”
“Yes.” Butler said smoothly. “I require your assistance.”
“Thank god, I’ve been bored out of my mind. The voice said. “Ever since the family went to their safe house in Wales I’ve had nothing to do.”
“Are they safe?” Butler pressed, his voice serious.
“Absolutely. They called up several acquaintances that owed them a favor. I checked things myself, they’ve got the best security one could ask for.” She responded.
“Good.” The bodyguard said with relief. “Then I need for you to rendez vous with us at the designated coordinates. They’ll know you’re coming, so don’t worry about being shot at.”
“I take it this will be fun?” She asked, excitement in her voice.
Butler grinned. “Very.”
“Hell yeah, that’s what I like to hear.” She yelled. “Alright, I’ll get on my way then. See you soon bro.”
“Likewise Juliet.” Butler said friendlily.
The bodyguard put the phone back into his pocket as he walked to the group assembling by the door. Holly, Mulch and Artemis were waiting alongside Ivankov, who was speaking to the transport crew over his communicator. The elf Captain raised a brow at Butler as he reached them.
“Who’d you call?” She asked curiously.
Butler smiled. “Reinforcements.”
Haven Terminal – Ten Minutes Later
The hangar was ever in a state of organized chaos, with ships flying all over the place dropping off and loading cargo. Somewhat removed from the entropy, on the far side of the LEP hangar, was a medium sized transport. It was anchored on an isolated landing pad, no doubt reserved for the most high priority ships, which was exactly the case now. As the warm wind from the chute blew through the air, a group of five individuals made their way to the craft, their pace one of importance and haste. Upon reaching it, the side door slid open, allowing them entrance into them ship. The five quickly climbed in, leaving the still battle scarred surface of the hanger behind.
As everyone took a seat around the rear compartment, Commander Ivankov walked to the cockpit, nodding to the two pilots in the front.
“All procedures are finished sir, ready to move out on your orders.” One of the flight suit clad humans stated cordially.
“Take us out Lieutenant.” The Commander responded as he seated himself in the third seat, strapping into the flight seat quickly.
“Roger that.” He said. The pilots activated the ship’s engines, bringing the powerful machine to life. In a few seconds the ship lifted off, hovering into the gigantic chute, the view seeming as though they were hanging over an infinite precipice, which was not far from the truth. The Lieutenant punched the throttle, launching the shuttle into the air beyond. As the ship began to distance itself from the terminal, a voice came in over the comm link.
“This is Viper squadron, we’re forming up on you now.” A voice stated.
As the message came through, four interceptors came up on either side of the transport, assuming an escort formation. Together, the five black ships rocketed towards the surface, the roar of their engines fading as they disappeared into the seemingly endless tunnel, their forms shrinking into faint dots as they left Haven behind.
Sawyer’s Estate – Basement
The dark was oppressing within the narrow confines of the small room, the air within stale and saturated with the stench of blood and sweat. The concrete walls were cold and damp, the stone perfectly formed, not a crack in it’s impassive surface. On the far end of the square room was a metal door, the thick and unforgiving barrier devoid of any windows, making it so that the only thing that existed was the little world within. It was quiet, the only sound one of faint dripping in the room beyond and the labored breathing of the man within.
The bloodied and bruised prisoner was chained to a simple metal chair, his clothes torn and stained with sweat, his face caked with grime. Despite the dreadful circumstances, he was calm and composed, his mind in control even though his body was near it’s breaking point. When he had been hired by a rival gang to infiltrate the Chimera Firm, he wasn’t just hired because of his experience, he’d been hired because of his tolerance for pain and his very tight lips. His employers had been certain that if he was caught, no amount of interrogation would break him, no level of suffering would make him talk. Thus far he’d held true to their expectations, surviving hours of intense punishment without a single cry of pain. They’d left him alone several hours ago, though he knew they’d be back.
As the man made an attempt to sleep, the faint echo of footsteps reverberated from the hallway outside, the sound creeping in through the crack under the door as it got closer and closer. He became alert immediately, his senses detecting only one man approaching, probably a guard checking in on him. As the footfalls reached the heavy door there was a brief silence, which was soon shattered by the clink of keys and the turning of the door’s lock. The door squealed madly as it opened slowly, light spilling in from the lit hall beyond, blinding the man temporarily. He squinted against the brightness, unable to cover his eyes, managing to make out the form of a well dressed man entering the cell.
The smell of cigar smoke wafted into his face as the man shut the door, leaving them alone within the cramped space. In the darkness he couldn’t see who was with him, but judging by the smoke he had a pretty good idea.
“Jack Sawyer.” The prisoner said venomously, spitting onto the floor after saying the name, as though its very utterance was a curse.
There was a momentary silence as the gloom hidden man paced around him several times before stopping again in front of him. When he spoke it was with a voice so dangerous that it made the hardened man’s skin crawl.
“I am very disappointed in you, Thomas Lennox.” Sawyer said slowly.
Suddenly, the crime boss made a movement, a click sounding above followed by light filling the cell from an overhead bulb. The prisoner squinted yet again, his eyes adjusting slowly to the brightness. When they did he saw the man standing over him, his cigar now thrown to the floor, something that Jack never did unless he was egregiously pissed off.
“You had so much potential, Thomas, and yet you betrayed me and everyone in this family.” Jack said calmly, his voice maddeningly devoid of anger.
“I’ll never tell you anything!” Thomas said defiantly, glaring at the composed man before him.
Sawyer tilted his head, looking at the prisoner in a calculative fashion, as though reading his life story like an open book. He then grinned devilishly, his eyes seemingly amused.
“I have to hand it to you.” Sawyer said loudly as he walked around the chair bound man, his footsteps rhythmic and sharp upon the solid stone floor. “You managed to survive some of my best interrogators without begging for your life. That’s a first.”
He came back to face the prisoner, pulling a wooden stool from the corner of the cell, placing it a foot from the man. Sawyer sat upon the chair, folding his hands together as he leaned forward to Thomas, leaving a few inches between them. “I like you, so I’m going to give you one last chance to tell me everything. If you don’t, you’ll have a very bad day.”
The ragged prisoner glared daggers at him, spitting in his face with vituperation as he seethed. “Go to hell!”
Sawyer didn’t even flinch as the spit hit him in the face, his body not moving in the slightest. As the prisoner sat there, breathing angrily, he simply looked at him, his expression unchanging. After several long seconds of staring into the man’s soul, Jack wiped the fluid from his visage, keeping his eyes on the man opposite to him. After about a minute of calculative staring, the crime boss grinned. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
Thomas remained silent, watching his captor with pure hatred. Jack sat back, still grinning like a hungry wolf. He stood up, putting the stool back in the corner of the cell. Without a word he started circling around the prisoner again, slow and purposeful. “Allow me to tell you a story.”
“When I was six years of age I was a street orphan in Manhattan.” He began. “I was born in a rather abusive home. My vagrant parents had abandoned me because I impeded their heavy drinking and drug abuse, seems as though their rum and heroine was more important than my life. So, I lived off of the detritus of society, hoping every day that someone would come along and rescue me from the hell that I had been thrown into. Of course the seventies were shit, no one ever came, nor did anyone seem to care. I was but an eyesore for the rich bankers of Wall Street and the self glorifying stars of Broadway, an inconvenient truth that they simply ignored as they walked by every day of every month of every year. Yet I still held onto the hope that someday, maybe, someone would care, that in such a large city filled with human beings, that one of them would be human enough to show kindness to me. So I continued to believe in another life, a future, that I could be like the other kids, all safe in a home with their toys and warm food, with parents that loved them more than anything in the world.”
“There was a man…” Sawyer paused, his calm demeanor suddenly breaking into a faint look of sadness, before quickly changing back to the mask he wore so well. After a moment’s hesitation he continued. “There was man who came to me one day, a cold December evening, as I was trying to stay warm in a dumpster, but couldn’t. I was close to death. He said that he would help me, that I could be normal, that I’d have a life worth living, a life worth loving. Being as I was, I believed him. He took me to his house, offered me warm food, even gave me hot chocolate, something I’d never tasted before. I was, for the first time in my life, happy, the simple things that he gave worth more than gold. At that moment, I knew that there was hope.”
Jack paused again, something in his mind making making his face harden with anger. “Of course, nothing’s free in life.” He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly before continuing. “Turns out he tainted my hot chocolate with tranquilizer. I was out in a matter of seconds…When I woke up I was chained in a dark room. It was cold. I was scared. Then the man came in. When he did I called his name, thinking that he would save me, my young mind not understanding yet that it was he who had drugged me. He gave me a look that made all the expectation drain from my heart, a look of sick desire.”
Sawyer stopped in front of the prisoner, looking away from him to some distant place. “The things he did to me I will never forget. Sometimes he hurt me, other times he did even worse things, things that I will not go into for both our sakes. He had a knack for causing suffering, making one feel horrible pain yet keeping them conscious and fully alert, fully feeling. After several long days of this, I was given an opportunity. He’d been drinking heavily, passed out in the chair a few meters from me. In his stupor he forgot to tie me up after the last session. I could have just left, gone to the police and possibly attained shelter. But I didn’t. Instead I went to his little box of tools, the ones he used on me. I grabbed a knife, the one he seemed to favor most, and walked over to him. He always kept them sharp, so I knew it was functional. I watched him as he snored away, his disgusting face almost normal looking in slumber, almost human. But I knew it was a lie, that we were all evil, that it is what we do best. However, I waited, waited silently until he woke. When he did, he mumbled my name, and for a second it sounded like the way he spoke to me the first time we met, with goodness and care. But again, I knew it was a lie. He saw the knife, but I was too fast and he was too slow. I stabbed him as hard as I could right in his fat belly, then again and again and again, even long after his screaming and gurgling stopped. I kept doing so for over an hour until the knife itself broke from overuse. After that, I left. I went back to my life on the streets a changed person. I no longer had that innocent hope that I had before, I no longer believed in the goodness of people. I finally knew how the world was, I saw it clearly for the first time.” Sawyer turned to Thomas, a stone cold look on his face. “I saw that life is empty, that unless you do things yourself, you will never rise above your own filth. There is no such thing as a happy ending, no such thing as a hero that will rescue you from the ashes of despair. There is only yourself.”
Sawyer crouched down, bringing himself to eye level with the prisoner. “But you know what I also learned? I learned how to survive, how to claw my way to the top at the expense of everyone else. It made who I am today a possibility. So in a way, I owe him, otherwise I would have simply died like a stray dog on that cold December night.” Jack paused, his eyes growing increasingly cold. “Do you know what else he taught me? He taught me how to make people suffer, I learned first had after all. So, I’d like to share with you his talents, and hopefully then you’ll be able to appreciate life enough to tell me what I want to know.”
Lennox still glared defiantly at the man, though inside he was unnerved by his story, secretly afraid of the man before him. He didn’t say anything as Sawyer took off his suit jacket and placed it on the stool, along with his watch. Jack pulled up his sleeves revealing scar covered arms, remnants of his horrid past, the faint lines still visible after all those years. He reached into his pocket for something, though Thomas couldn’t see what it was, and stood over his prisoner with a death-like stare.
“Let’s put your so called unbreakable character to the test shall we?” Sawyer stated placidly. With that, he got started.
Down the hallway stood Victor, the tall man utterly impassive as he kept watch by the stairs. As the screams started to waft out from the cell, the imposing man couldn’t help but wince. He’d only seen Jack at work once before, but it was enough to make him flinch, and that’s saying something. For about an hour the cries of agony went on, but suddenly, after about sixty-two minutes, the sound stopped abruptly. The door to the cell swung open, out from it stepping Jack Sawyer. He was, to Victor’s surprise, clean. He walked at a casual pace, putting on is suit jacket as he did. His face was calm, his eyes devoid of emotion.
“It’s done.” He said to his second in command with a smooth voice. “He sang like a canary. I now know everything I need to know.”
“Is he alive?” Victor asked, the intonation in his voice showing no concern for the prisoner’s well being, rather a simple business as usual tone.
Jack’s empty expression didn’t change. “Unfortunately he is no longer with us. Dispose of him in the regular fashion, there’s no need to give this one any special treatment.” He started to walk to the stairs, but stopped suddenly, slightly shaking despite himself has he put his hands to his face. He grimaced as he took several deep breaths, his eyes closed tightly as he suppressed the sudden flashes of memory that had surfaced from the recesses of his mind, no doubt given rise by the torture he’d just dispensed. He preferred to distance himself from the past, but he had no choice but to revisit it in order to break the prisoner, a necessity that would no doubt cause nightmares for weeks.
“Sir, are you alright?” Victor asked as he moved to the man, concern evident in his voice.
Sawyer nodded to his comrade. “Thanks, but I’m quite alright. Just some memories I’d rather forget is all.” He stood up fully once more, brushing his suit off as he composed himself. “We must call a meeting concerning the intel that I just acquired. There are some people that need to be wiped off the map.”
“Of course.” Victor stated cordially. “I’ll have all of your Lieutenants gather in the conference room immediately.”
Jack nodded, allowing the man to pass by. As Victor’s footsteps faded, the man looked down the hall to the cell one last time, a haunted look on his face. It reminded him all too well of the one he was in all those years ago.
Truly we are all victims of our pasts. He thought. How much I wish mine would just leave me alone. After a moment he started up the stairs as well, leaving the cold dark cellar behind.
Western Alps – Mountain Facility
The shuttle flew through the entrance tunnel to the facility, leaving the chute as it passed into the allied base. The escort broke off as the craft neared the hangar, allowing it to move about freely. The area was much less congested than it was the last time Holly had been there, the majority of the allied forces being in and around Haven. Still, there were a few dozen ships, some loading up supplies for the city’s relief efforts whilst others underwent repairs. The shuttle slowed to a halt, landing smoothly upon the surface of the hangar, subsequently powering down its engines. As engineers checked up on the ship’s exterior, the occupants within unstrapped themselves. Commander Ivankov patted the pilot’s on their shoulders before walking to the rear compartment where the others were waiting.
“Alright, time to get off.” He stated as he reached the door. “Be sure to behave, the council even get’s into a kerfuffle about dress code, so try not to break anything.”
Mulch grinned. “Do you have loss prevention up here?”
The human commander gave him an unamused look which said: You steal anything, I hit you. The dwarf quickly became a little angel after that. Ivankov looked at the dwarf for a moment longer, then opened the door.
Artemis, Butler and Holly each waited as the doorway slid open. As it did, a figure became apparent outside. It was standing a few meters from the craft, arms crossed casually. As the door opened further they were able to make out the individual before them. Though Butler and Ivankov weren’t surprised, everyone else was taken completely off guard.
“Hey guys, what’s up?” The person said conversationally, waving a hand at them.
There, standing before them in a black suit, was a grinning Juliet Butler.