Saddam Hussein

The Sequel
« on: December 30, 2015, 10:04:05 PM »
(This is the sequel to The Collaboration.  Please don't post in this thread.)

Chapter I

September 12th, 1962

The knock on my door came at around seven in the morning.  I quickly finished tying the knot in my necktie, then hurried over to my front door and opened it, ready to tell whatever door-to-door salesman or religious recruiter that I wasn't interested.

A young man in an expensive suit stood there.  "Dr. Thomas T. Bishop?"

"That's me.  Who are -"

"Special Agent Jeff Mykael, FBI."  He flashed a badge at me.  "I need to speak with you, maybe take a statement.  Could I step inside?  This will probably take a while, but it's very important."

He said this all very fast.

"Sorry, but this isn't very good timing," I said, showing him my briefcase.  "I have to get to work.  If you could give me a card or something, I could call you later -"

"Don't worry about that, Dr. Bishop," Mykael interrupted me.  "Rice University is closed for today."

I squinted at him.  "If they were canceling classes for today, they would have called me.  Are you sure -?"

"To be fair, it only closed about five minutes ago," clarified the agent.  "The college will probably be making the call to you shortly.  I'm sorry to tell you that a number of the faculty are involved in our current investigation.  The dean agreed that it would be best if the college simply stayed closed today, so as to free up everyone who can aid our investigation."

The arrogance in that - assuming that the FBI's investigation took precedence over mine and everyone else's jobs - irritated me to no end.  Even if it really was more important than our jobs, the FBI had no right to make that call.

"Right," I said, nodding, "Well, if I don't have work today, then I think I'm going to go back to bed.  Have a nice day."

And I closed the door on him.


In truth, I wasn't planning on returning to bed.  There was no way I could go back to sleep after I had already had a shower, gotten dressed, and had a cup of coffee.  I just wanted to communicate my opinion to the FBI loud and clear.

Instead, I put another pot of coffee on to boil, and started reading the newspaper.  I did briefly wonder what exactly it was that Mykael was planning on talking to me, and apparently several of my colleagues, about.  I certainly wasn't involved in any criminal activity, and I was fairly sure that none of the other professors were, either.  In any case, if they wanted my cooperation, then they could ask me politely next time, not interrupt my job.

Half an hour later, my phone rang.  I could only think of one person who would be calling me at this time, and now I was getting seriously pissed off.

I snatched up the phone.  "Okay, asshole, you listen to me.  Don't -"

"Tom?  Is that you?"

It wasn't who I was expecting.

"Mike?  Uh, sorry.  I thought I was talking to someone else."

"I know.  That's why I'm calling.  We may have a situation here."

This was getting stranger and stranger.  I hadn't spoken to Michael Wilmore in months, and hadn't even seen him in person since I quit my job at NASA five years previously.

"A situation?  And how did you know -"

"I'll explain later, Tom.  Our line might be bugged.  Right now, I need you to head over to a small army base, just north of Houston.  That's where I'm at, along with the people who want to talk to you.  I'll give you directions."

I grabbed a small notepad and quickly scribbled down the directions as Wilmore gave them to me.

"So why an army base?" I asked when I was done.  "It was the FBI who wanted to talk to me."

"Oh, the FBI are here too.  I think this is some kind of military/civilian law enforcement joint operation.  It's pretty strange."

"And I suppose this is important, if they've got you calling me."

"It's urgent, Tom.  Get over here as fast as you can."

Promising that I would, I hung up.  I was beginning to suspect that this would be a very long day.

I had no idea.


The army base was indeed small; in fact, it looked almost unofficial to me.  There were no fences or multiple buildings that most bases had, it was simply one large square building way out in the middle of the country.

Parking nearby, I knocked on the door, feeling a little bit silly.  It was opened by two grim-faced men in military uniform.  Without saying a word, they motioned to me to follow them down the hallway.  I obeyed, still confused.

We finally reached the end of the hallway and entered a large room.  This room had the look of a command center.  There were men in both military and civilian attire running all over the place, working at the computers, or shouting things at each other.  Clearly, there was some kind of high alert going on.

"Hey, Tom!"

I looked around.  My old boss Michael Wilmore was standing in the corner.  He was a handsome man of six foot two, although he seemed to be more worn-down since I had last seen him.  He had lost weight, and his curly brown hair had turned almost entirely gray.  He was only fifty years old, but he looked like a defeated old man.

"Mike, nice to see you again," I said, shaking hands with him.  "Congratulations on your promotion, by the way."

Wilmore chuckled.  "It was nothing."

"Nothing?  You're working up in Washington now, aren't you?  Making the big important decisions with the NASA brass?"

"I don't really make very many decisions, Tom.  I'm more of an advisor to the Administrator than anything else.  To be honest, I'm more impressed with what you've done since your time with NASA.  I never would have imagined you as a teacher."

I narrowed my eyes at him.  "Professor."

"Oh, right, of course.  I'm sorry."

A heavily built man, about my height, wearing a civilian suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to us.  "Mr. Wilmore, is this your guest?"

"Yes," replied Wilmore.  "This is Professor Thomas T. Bishop, from Rice University.  Tom, I'd like you to meet Special Agent Andrew Marcus."

"From the FBI?" I asked, shaking hands with the agent.

Marcus shook his head.  "No, Army Criminal Investigation Division.  It's our job to investigate crimes committed from within the ranks."

"Why are -"

"One moment, Professor," interrupted Marcus.  "We need to do this in private."

The agent led us out of the main room and into a small room aside it.  The two chairs, single table in the middle, and absolutely nothing else made it look uncomfortably like a police interrogation room.

At Marcus's prompting, I sat down in one of the chairs.  He took the one across from me.  Wilmore leaned on the wall in one of the corners.

He was the one who broke the silence, not Marcus.  "You can talk freely in front of Agent Marcus, Tom.  He's been fully briefed on all of our activities."

I looked at Wilmore.  "'Briefed on all of our activities'?  You mean even..."

"A few of the scientific...implications may have been left out," Wilmore said quickly.  "But that's not really his department, no need to get into them here..."

"I'm not judging, don't worry."  Marcus pulled a folder out of his briefcase and placed it on the table.  "Government cover-ups happen all the time.  No reason they wouldn't do the same with NASA.  Anyway, take a look at this."

And even though I told myself not to, even though I had spent the past five years of my life trying to put my work for NASA behind me, even though the only thing I wanted to do was go home and forget that this had ever happened, I grabbed the folder and opened it.

I still regret that decision.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2015, 10:04:26 PM »
Three photographs spilled out of the folder and onto the desk.

"Percy Cinlef, Randall Divito, and Frank Viscount, who was more commonly known as 'Dead Kangaroo'," said Marcus.

I tore my gaze away from the pictures to stare at Wilmore.  "Wait, so these men were..."

"Members of MAGIC, yes," Wilmore replied.  "Cinlef and Divito were both based here in the states, and were killed within hours of each other the day before yesterday.  Dead Kangaroo was murdered just yesterday in his home in Australia.  That's pretty tight timing, Tom.  Whoever our shooter is, he's very skilled."

"You're sure there's only one killer?" I asked, studying the photographs again.

"We think so, yes," Marcus answered, pulling a document out of the folder.  "At the very least we can say for certain that there was only one weapon used.  The ballistic report left no doubt."  He slid the document in front of me.  "The recovered rounds were all fired by the same rifle, a Remington 700."

I blinked.  "A what?"

Marcus smiled.  "That's our new sniper rifle, Professor.  It just came out this year, and so far, only select units of our military have been allowed to use it.  That tells us something about the killer, doesn't it?"

"My God," I muttered.  "He's in the military."

"Which, of course, is why CID is involved in this investigation," Marcus explained.

"And there's something else you should know, Tom," Wilmore added.  "Cinlef actually retired from MAGIC a couple of years ago.  Assuming that the motive in these murders is the connection to our organization, well, apparently retirement doesn't matter to this guy.  He wants us all dead."

I frowned.  "In other words, I'm probably on the hit list too."

"In so many words, yes."

Sighing, I leaned back in my chair.  "So why did you call me in here?  Just to give me fair warning?"

Marcus and Wilmore exchanged glances, and my old boss spoke.  "We were actually hoping that you could help us."

"How could I possibly help you?  I don't even work for the government anymore!"

"But you're the only one who can help us with our best lead, Professor," Marcus said.  "Solving these crimes quickly and discreetly is critical to national security.  You know this.  Please, work with us."

There was no way out of this.

"Okay, fine.  I'll take a look at what you have.  What exactly is this lead, anyway?"

"Not what, Professor," Marcus corrected me.  "Who.  We have a suspect.  Lieutenant Colonel Sam Vongeo, of the Marine Corps.  You know him, don't you?"

"Of course I do," I replied, thinking of the black Marine officer I had worked with during my employment with NASA.  He had been one of the few conspirators who had seemed neither cynical nor incompetent.  It sounded like he had been promoted from his old rank of major, too.  "You can't honestly think that he's the killer."

"We have a lot of evidence that supports him being the shooter, Tom," Wilmore answered solemnly.  "And he certainly has a motive."

I rolled my eyes.  "And what's that?  Did you think he got tired of being called a nigger or something?  Even though he's been listening to that for the past - how old is he?"


"Right, so he's fifty-one years old, and even though the racism has never been the slightest impediment to him serving his country as best as he can, he suddenly snaps and decides to gun everyone down.  And how the hell do you think that a guy that age can be running all over the world and sniping people so quickly and efficiently, anyway?"

"Don't be so quick to dismiss his capabilities, Professor," Marcus warned.  "Vongeo used to be a sniper before he was promoted off the battlefield, and by all accounts he was one of the best.  He practices at a firing range at least once a week, and consistently beats soldiers half his age.  He hasn't worn away with age.  If anything, he's gotten better."

"As for his motive, I wasn't talking about racism," Wilmore added.  "It's more complicated than that.  To put it simply, we had to, well, downsize Vongeo.  He no longer works for MAGIC.  This could be his revenge."

I raised an eyebrow.

"When Vongeo was promoted, he was reassigned," Wilmore explained.  "Instead of being in charge of security at our old NASA base, he was sent to Vietnam.  America's involvement in that war is getting bigger and bigger, and he didn't have an opportunity to refuse.  He was no longer doing any work for MAGIC, so obviously we aren't going to pay him anymore.  He didn't take that well."

"That doesn't seem like much of a reason to suddenly just kill everyone."

Marcus took up the explanation.  "Maybe not, but then we have to consider the possibility of psychological trauma.  Vongeo didn't have a very good experience in Vietnam.  We're still trying to get the details from our contacts in the Marines of what happened to him over there, but we know that after only three months, Vongeo returned home and received an honorable discharge.  That was just a month ago.  Interesting timing."

"And to top it off, he's been missing for the past three days," Wilmore concluded.  "His neighbors have reported that he just got in his truck and drove off, telling no one where he was going or when he would back.  No alibi for the killings.  I know it's only circumstantial right now, but we'd be fools not to at least investigate this."

I nodded reluctantly, conceding the point.

"What we want you to do is accompany the FBI in searching Vongeo's house, Tom.  Simply let them know if you find anything that could point to where Vongeo is.  You knew the man a lot better than the rest of us in MAGIC.  I don't know if it was because you were a fellow Marine or what, but he trusted you, more than he did anyone else."

I shook my head.  "You make us sound like we were close friends.  I haven't spoken to him since, well, since he went to Vietnam.  He never even told me he was going there."

"Still, we have to try.  If anyone can do it, you can, Tom.  We need to find Vongeo fast.  Will you help us?"

I rose from my seat, looked Wilmore in the eye, and nodded.

"I'll do it."


It had only been a couple of hours since I had last seen him, but I had forgotten how quickly the FBI agent Jeff Mykael could annoy me.  What was particularly irritating was his obvious youth and inexperience.  He couldn't have been more than thirty years old, and his excited mannerisms and rapid speech just screamed gung-ho enthusiasm to the world.  What was I doing partnered with this kid?

Unfortunately, I didn't have a choice.  Vongeo was no longer in the military, and CID had no jurisdiction over him.  That meant I was stuck working with the FBI, and they sent Mykael to represent them.  I suspected that he might have been the low man on the totem pole, resulting in him being given the most boring assignment.

In any case, Vongeo's home was only five minutes away from the base, so we didn't have to sit through too much awkward silence before we arrived there.  It was a small house in a quiet suburban environment.  It certainly didn't look like the home of a killer.

"Here we are, Professor," Mykael said, finally breaking the silence.  He got out of his car and entered the house, with myself close behind.  Once inside, however, we stopped and stared.  We weren't alone in the house.

Two men were ransacking the place.  A set of bookshelves in the sitting room was overturned.  Files, books, and documents were streamed across the floor, as both men continued to strip all we could see right before our eyes.  It was a few seconds before they noticed us.

"Freeze!" screamed Mykael, whipping out his service revolver and aiming it at the two men.

Both intruders turned to face us, their arms raised in the air.  They had no weapons in sight.  I could also see that they were both Asian and fairly young.  One was taller than the other and had longer, almost shoulder-length hair.

"Who are you?" demanded Mykael.

No answer came.

"Where are you from?  China?  Japan?"

"How about Vietnam?" I offered.  They still didn't reply, but from the looks on their faces, I could tell that I was right.

Mykael slowly approached the two men, both hands gripping his weapon.  Then it was a blur.

The long-haired intruder lashed out his left hand at Mykael's gun, knocking it to the side.  His right hand formed a fist and struck the FBI agent in his temple.  Following that, his right leg kicked him in the back of his kneecaps, causing Mykael to buckle, and his left arm looped around his neck to form a lethal choke hold.

I stepped forward to try and free Mykael, but the other man stepped between us and produced a short, deadly-looking knife from somewhere on his person.  We locked eyes for a second, and then he attacked, stabbing at me with the knife.

Unfortunately for him, I had considerable experience with fighting knife-wielding men, most of it from angry Nazis as they shouted German swearwords at me.  I raised my left hand and seized the hand with the knife, yanking it to the side.  At the same time, I spun on the balls of my feet and clobbered my attacker in the face with my right elbow.  He slowly sank to the ground as I smashed my left knee into his face, knocking him out.

Mykael's face was turning blue as the other Asian man tightened the choke hold on him.  As I approached them, however, he flung the spluttering FBI agent aside, and drawing a knife of his own, crouched into a combat stance.  Then he attacked.

He was far more skilled with the knife then his partner was, attacking with horizontal swings rather than stabbing strikes, which were difficult to recover from and made the attacker vulnerable to counter attacks.  The blade almost looked like a silver blur as it whizzed dangerously close to me, and it took all of my skill to keep dodging the violent slashing.  I knew I couldn't tolerate this for long, so I did the only thing I felt I could do in the circumstances: Charge straight at him the moment he hit a lull.

As I had expected, the man was also trained in knife defensive maneuvers, and he raised his weapon in a parrying stance as I lunged at him.  The blade slashed into my upper left arm as I slammed into him, but I didn't break off the charge.  My aggressive move knocked him over backwards and onto the ground, with me on top of him.  When I pulled myself off of him, I saw something I hadn't expected.  My weight had driven the knife into his chest, like a hammer pounding in a nail.  The man twitched a few times, and then lay still.

Mykael slowly got up and stared at the scene.  "My God.  I don't how to thank you enough, Professor."

"Don't worry about it," I said shortly.  I meant it, too.  I had never enjoyed fulsome praise.

Pulling the other man to his feet, I slapped him back to his senses.  Mykael snapped on the handcuffs.

"What were you doing here!?" barked Mykael.  "Did Sam Vongeo send you?  Or were you looking for him?  Answer me!"

"I'm not talking to you," muttered the intruder.

Mykael scowled at him.  "Okay, fine.  Enjoy your time in prison.  Two counts of attempted murder, one against an FBI agent.  Oh yeah, and we can tack on breaking and entering, too.  I wonder how long you'll get."

"What?" The Asian man looked confused.  "I never did anything to you.  I was just with this asshole here."

"That doesn't matter.  Your buddy back there tried to kill me, and it was in furtherance of your crime.  That makes you an accomplice, and subject to the same punishment.  By the way, he's dead now.  My friend here, the 'asshole', just killed him."

I admired the way he delivered that line.  It wasn't a threat - I was hardly going to kill him if he didn't start talking, but it still applied pressure in just the right way.

The man started looking nervous.  "Okay, look, maybe we can work something out."

"Smart move," Mykael smirked.  "First of all, what's your name?"

"Ken Bushido."

"And where are you from?"

He looked uncomfortable.  "South Vietnam.  I was supposed to be one of the guys in the jungle, fighting the Americans, but I could speak good English, so they sent me here."

"You're one of the Viet Cong?" I asked.  "And they...who the hell are 'they'?

"My bosses.  Look, before I say anything else, I want some kind of a guarantee that I won't go to prison.  In writing."

"That's fine."  Mykael looked up at me.  "We'll take him back to the base and get him his guarantee, then find out what he knows.  I want to see what Wilmore and Marcus will make of him."

I nodded, and grabbing Bushido by the arm to steer him along, followed Mykael out of the house.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2015, 10:07:19 PM »
The world was waiting with bated breath.  It had been several years since the legendary rock and roll musician, Thor "King Mugsy" Mugthulhu, had performed live in America.  And yet, that very night, the Finnish rocker was planning on giving the first concert of his newest American tour in Dallas, Texas.  Thousands of people were flowing into the state to see the performance, or even hear a few snatches of it.  Mugthulhu had gotten up early, ready to rehearse all day for the concert.

Even though Mugthulhu was pushing fifty years old, he was still an impressive-looking man.  He stood 6'4 and weighed about 250 pounds.  His face had strong, handsome features, and was framed with long dark hair and a beard that reached his chest.  He almost resembled the image of an old Viking king, giving rise to his nickname.

The great man was now strumming his guitar in his dressing room at the studio, mouthing the lyrics to his songs as he played through them.  Mugthulhu wasn't planning on rehearsing with the rest of his band until lunchtime, so he was alone in the room.  Or at least he was until the interruption.

The intruder was his head of personal security, Jon Blanko, whose lean, 5'6 frame disguised his toughness.  Mugthulhu respected and admired the small WWII veteran, whom he literally owed his life to, but rules were rules, and tradition was tradition.  No one was supposed to interrupt his rehearsal.

"I know this is a bad time," Blanko said quickly, noting the look of annoyance on his boss's face, "But this is urgent.  Someone needs to talk to you."

Mugthulhu rolled his eyes.  "Everyone wants to talk to me.  How is this urgent?"

His question was answered by the tall man who walked through the doorway after Blanko.  Mugthulhu hadn't seen him in five years, but he still recognized him instantly.

"Hello, Mr. Mugthulhu," Wilmore greeted him.  "We need to talk."


Agent Marcus and several of the soldiers were waiting for us as we arrived at the base.  No sooner had Mykael parked the car than the back door was yanked open, and the men dragged Bushido inside the base.

"Efficient," I commented, as Mykael and I got out of the car.  Only Marcus remained, waiting for us.  He turned and walked back to the base, us following behind.

"Well done, both of you," said Marcus, as we entered the base.  "Especially you, Professor Bishop.  Agent Mykael owes you his life."

I shrugged.  "No problem."

"Have you gotten him his, uh, guarantee yet?" Mykael asked.

"We're working on it.  If he really does have ties to the Viet Cong, we'll have to be very careful with what we do with him.  There's no telling what they'll do if they find out that one of their own is going to rat to us."

We approached the door to the same room that I had been talking to Wilmore and Marcus in earlier.  I could see Bushido sitting behind the table, glumly staring at the floor.  Marcus opened the door, but held up a hand to stop me as I tried to enter.

"That's far enough for you, Professor.  Mykael and I will take it from here."

I stared at him.  "What are you talking about?"

"You're not a law enforcement official.  You don't even work for the government anymore.  We appreciate what you've done for us, but you can't be a part of an interrogation session.  It's our domain, not yours."

I clenched my fists, my anger rising.  Being excluded like this wasn't what I had been expecting, not at this stage.

"So I should just go home, then?" I asked, trying to control my tone of voice.

"No," Marcus replied quickly.  "We may still need you.  Just wait out in the main room while we work on this guy.  We'll talk to you when we're done."

This was getting ridiculous.  "Wait for you?  What the hell am I supposed to do - play solitaire?!"

Marcus sighed, but didn't reply.  There was really nothing to be said.  Apparently I couldn't sit in on the interrogation, and there was no way I was walking away from this.  I would just have to wait.

"Fine, I'll wait," I finally said.  "By the way, where's Wilmore?"  It had just occurred to me that I hadn't seen him since returning to the base.

"He's not here," explained Marcus.  "He went to follow up on a lead.  Now, if you'll excuse us -"

He and Mykael stepped inside the interrogation room, and the door slowly closed in my face.


After a humiliating twenty minutes of me sitting in the main room of the base, doing absolutely nothing, Marcus and Mykael came out of the interrogation room.  Marcus looked triumphant.  Mykael, on the other hand, looked apprehensive.

"Professor, thank you for your patience," Marcus began.  "I apologize for your wait."  He didn't sound very apologetic, and I doubted that he really cared about me having to wait.

"Did he talk?" I asked, rising from my chair.

"In exchange for immunity from prosecution and protection from his former confederates, yes."


Marcus was silent for a moment before he replied.  "According to him, he and his partner were given their orders last night.  Their job was to strip Vongeo's house of any valuable military intelligence, and then burn the house down."

"What military intelligence?"

"He doesn't know what his employer was looking for specifically.  The plan was to take all the military files they could find."

"Does he know who his employer was?"

Once again, Marcus paused.  "No.  His briefing took place in a little cabin in the middle of the woods, with no lighting.  Whoever gave him his orders was hidden in the shadows, so he couldn't see him.  But he did tell us that the voice had an American accent, and was deep."

I wasn't sure what to make of this, especially in regards to Vongeo's involvement.  The order to strip his house seemed to be evidence in his favor, but it was also possible that something in his files implicated him in the killings, and he was just trying to cover his tracks.  And Vongeo certainly did have a deep voice, but so did millions of other Americans.

I directed my attention at Mykael.  "So you're going to hit this cabin now?"

"Actually, no," the FBI agent muttered.

"This time, I'm going to handle the mission, Professor," Marcus interjected.  "Mykael told me about what happened to him back at Vongeo's house, and voiced his concern that a more experienced agent should take command for the next operation."

Mykael looked glum, and I felt sorry for him.  Nobody liked to be excluded, as I had just learned from sitting the interrogation out.  At the same time, though, my respect for him soared.  Putting aside his own ambitions and hopes of glory to do what was best for solving the case was a damn decent thing to do.

"So he'll be in charge of transporting Bushido to a holding facility, and debriefing him fully there," Marcus continued.  "And you're with me, Bishop.  You do want to come, right?"

"Definitely."  I frowned.  "Wait a minute.  Didn't you tell me earlier that CID doesn't have any jurisdiction over Vongeo, because he isn't in the military anymore?  And he was in the Marines.  You're Army."

Mykael rolled his eyes.  "Okay, so it's bending the law slightly, but we don't exactly have a lot of people working on this investigation.  Anyway, who gives a shit?"

I laughed for the first time that morning.


"Corps, right?"

I blinked in confusion.  The question had come out of nowhere.  But then I realized that Marcus was asking me about my military service.

"Yeah, I was a Marine," I answered.  "Joined right after Pearl Harbor.  I was only nineteen at the time."

Marcus nodded.  He was driving, while I rode shotgun.  Nobody else was in the car, but another vehicle was following us with a back-up team, all heavily armed.  It wasn't very likely that anyone was still in the cabin we were headed to, but it was best not to take chances, especially after what had happened at Vongeo's house.

"I joined after Pearl Harbor, too," offered Marcus.  "I was a couple of years older than you, though.  And like you said back at the base, I was - actually, I still am - in the Army."

"You know," I commented, "My drill sergeant always used to say that 'Army' was an acronym that stood for 'Aren't Ready for Marines Yet'."

Marcus didn't hesitate.  "And my drill sergeant always used to say that 'Marines' stood for 'My Ass Rides In Naval Equipment, Sir'."

We both laughed, even though I had heard the joke before, and I suspected that he had as well.

Marcus glanced over at me briefly.  "The difference between me and you, though, is that I didn't go to college.  You were in college. Hell, not just any college, you were in Rice.  You had a student deferment and everything.  Why did you enlist?"

I shrugged.  "That's a complicated question.  Maybe I just felt that I owed something to my country."

There was no response to that, and we continued to ride along in silence.  Suddenly, Marcus hit the brakes and brought the car sliding to a halt, with nothing but woods next to us.

"This is it.  It's as close to the location of the cabin as we can get to by car."

We both exited the car.  Behind us, the vehicle with the back-up team slowly trundled to a halt, and four soldiers leaped out.  They were all dressed in combat fatigues, and equipped with body armor, submachine guns, and shotguns.  They were a tough-looking group.  I was glad they were on our side.

"Bushido said that the cabin was less than half a mile into the woods."  Marcus stared out into the trees.  "Are you sure you want to come with us, Bishop?"

"Definitely.  If Vongeo really is behind this, then I might be able to talk him down without violence."

Marcus frowned.  "I appreciate that.  That being said, though, I'm not going to order my men to not defend themselves.  If he chooses not to surrender..."

"I understand."

"In that case, you may need this."  Marcus reached into the trunk of his car and withdrew a pistol, which he handed to me.  "Are you ready for this?"

Tightening my grip on the handle of the weapon, I slowly nodded.

"I'm ready."

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2015, 10:12:24 PM »
The gun in my hand was an M1911 pistol.  I was certainly familiar with the weapon - after all, it was the standard-issue sidearm for the military of the United States, and had been for over fifty years now.  I had plenty of experience with it.  But after five years of having sworn off guns, and never doing anything more dangerous than teaching geology to college students, it felt almost foreign to me to be holding a weapon once again.

Still, it didn't seem to me like I had much of a choice.  I despised MAGIC and all that they had done, but I couldn't in good faith let the killings continue.  There were too many secrets that they held, secrets that would be devastating to the world if revealed in the wrong way.

As Marcus had said, the cabin was only a short distance into the woods, and we found it after less than ten minutes of hiking.  It was a small wooden cabin, and pretty much nothing else.  There were no picnic tables, no vehicles, no tracks on the ground, no signs of life at all.  It looked abandoned.

"I'd be lying if I told you that this wasn't what I expected," muttered Marcus.  "A rustic dump like this is no place for a long-term hideout.  Well, they may have left evidence behind."

Marcus and I crept up to the front door of the cabin, guns held high.  His men slowly followed behind us.  Then Marcus carefully stuck out his foot and nudged the wooden door.  It wasn't locked, and it swung open with a loud creak, letting sunlight inside.  We could now see into the cabin, and it was clearly empty.  Sighing with relief, I stepped in through the door.

And that was when the blow struck me from behind, in the back of my head.  Eyes watering from the pain, I collapsed to the ground, and dropped the pistol.  Before I could reach for it, a heavy boot slammed into my back, pinning me to the ground.

"Don't even think about it."  It was Marcus.  As I watched, he picked up the pistol and removed the magazine.  "It was only loaded with blanks, anyway.  Like we would really give you a weapon with live rounds."

The foot was removed from my back, and strong hands pulled me to my feet.  Then I was forced down onto a crude wooden chair, and I felt the cold metal of handcuffs snap my wrists together behind me, trapping me to the chair.

I wasn't facing the door, but I heard it close behind me.  Marcus stood facing me with two of his men, one on either side of him.  The other two soldiers apparently remained behind me, guarding the door.

"You've been handling yourself well all day, Professor."  Marcus fixed me with a steely glare.  "But you made one big mistake.  Keeping Bushido alive.  He didn't back you up."

"What are you talking about?!  What the hell are you doing?!"

"He told us the whole story, Bishop," snapped Marcus.  "Including the part where you told him to lie if he was ever caught.  So we decided to play along and give you a story you might buy him making up.  This place.  It's nice and abandoned, perfect for our interrogation."

"Interrogation?  About what?"

Marcus leaned over me, his features angry.  "You're not listening to me, Bishop.  We've moved past the investigation stage here.  We're not trying to find out if you're involved.  We already know you're involved.  So drop the act!"

My confusion was quickly turning to anger.  "This isn't an act!  I'm not involved in anything!"

"Then how do you explain the five hundred thousand dollars that was wired to a Swiss bank account in your name three days ago?"

"I don't have a Swiss bank account!"

"You obviously do, seeing how we've traced it back to you pretty neatly.  Again, Bishop, I'm already certain that you're involved.  These denials aren't going to help you."

"If a Swiss bank account is all you have..." I began.

"It isn't," Marcus cut me off.  "We've had you under surveillance ever since we detected the wire."

"Then you'll know that there was no way in hell I could have been flying around the world sniping people."

"That doesn't mean you weren't involved.  Bushido told us that the orders given to him to search Vongeo's house were given by you, last night in your house."  He paused.  "All four agents watching you, two from CID and two from the FBI, confirmed that two Asian men entered your home at 2 AM last night, and exited twenty minutes later."

"That's bullshit!"

"So now they're lying?"

The chances of four agents from CID and the FBI collaborating to frame me were pretty slim.  But as I frantically thought about it, I realized that there was another possibility.

"I was sound asleep last night.  Look, if they were in my home, then they could have just picked the lock on my front door to make it look like I was inviting them in.  Ask your men if they specifically saw me opening the door, or if they just saw the other two walk in."

"I'm not asking them anything!" shouted Marcus.  "I'm not going to debate you on this, Bishop.  You're going to tell me what your involvement in this is, right now!"

This couldn't be happening.

"What were you looking for in Vongeo's house?"

"Marcus, I-"

"Is Vongeo involved in this too?  Your shooter, maybe?"

"I don't know!"

"Who are you working for?!"

"I'm not working for anyone!  I don't have a damn thing to do with this!"

Marcus slowly shook his head.  "All right, Bishop.  You don't want to do this the easy way, fine.  It looks like we're just going to have to do it the hard way."


Heavy headphones of cold metal had been placed on my ears, cutting off all sounds from the outside world.  Another heavy piece of metal equipment was strapped around my head, covering my eyes like goggles.  All I could see was darkness.  I was blind and deaf to the outside world.

At first, this didn't seem too bad.  At least not until they turned on the static.

The obnoxious sound crackled through my headphones and into my ears, loudly permeating every part of my head.  I couldn't see and I couldn't hear; now I couldn't even think.  Without light and sound to stimulate my brain, I could do nothing but sit there in a dull stupor for every moment of the mental torture.

Finally, I felt hands yank the contraptions off my face.  Bright light shone into my world, blinding me momentarily, but clearing my head of all its cobwebs.  Most thankfully of all, the sound of the static was gone, no longer clogging my brain functions.

"That's it, just relax," said a voice.  "Breathe normally; let your eyes get re-adjusted to the light.  Don't struggle."

Still gathering my senses, I squinted up at the speaker.  It was Marcus, of course.

"You know how long you've been wearing that thing?" he asked me, almost casually.

My sluggish mind slowly tried to recall how long the ordeal had been going on for.

"An hour, an hour and a half, maybe," I answered weakly.

Marcus slowly nodded, looking like he was deep in thought.  "I thought you'd say something like that.  You've only had it on for fifteen minutes.  Distortion of your sense of time, just another way sensory deprivation fucks with you.  Not pleasant, is it?"

I made no reply to that, and he continued.  "Still, you're taking it a lot better than most prisoners do.  They normally scream, swear, make threats, shit like that.  You're taking it with some dignity.  I respect that, Bishop."

"You're a sick fuck, you know that?" I muttered.

I expected Marcus to hit me, spit at me, or lash out with anger in some way.  But he surprised me by remaining still.  As my eyes finally completed their adjustment to the light, I saw that the cabin was empty apart from the two of us.  Apparently he wanted to have a private moment with me.  But why?  And could I use this to my advantage?

"I don't enjoy any part of this, Bishop," Marcus finally said.  "Torture is morally repugnant, and it's illegal.  I've spent ten years of my life investigating our own soldiers for it.  That's how devoted I am to eradicating torture.  It's my personal mission.  But circumstances change.  Sometimes the ends do justify the means.  You of all people should understand that."

I wondered if any of the soldiers he had arrested for torture before had pleaded something like that with him.

"Talk to me, Bishop," Marcus insisted.  "It'll only get worse for you from here on out.  And you'll make it easier on yourself in court, too.  I need to know who you're working with, and where they are now."

I remained silent.

"Bishop!  Answer me!"

"Fuck you."

Marcus finally snapped at this.  His face red with anger, he stomped towards me in a fit of rage, holding the metal sensory deprivation equipment in his hands.  I wasn't sure what he was planning to do - hit me, force the equipment on me again - but as I had hoped, he got close to me.  Too close.

I kicked out with my unrestrained left leg, striking his kneecap perfectly.  Then I leaped to my feet, carrying the chair I was handcuffed to with me, and lowered my shoulder and charged at the stunned Marcus, knocking him over with the combined force of my attack and the chair's frame.

Now came the tricky part - freeing myself from my restraints.  I turned around and sprinted backwards at the wall of the cabin, then hurled myself right at it, chair first.  As I had expected, the force of the impact was jarring and painful, but I heard a loud snap as the weak wooden frame of my chair cracked.  I threw myself at the wall a few more times until the chair finally broke into several pieces, tumbling to the ground in a pile along with my handcuffs.  I was free.

I could hear loud shouting and footsteps coming from outside.  One of Marcus's men appeared in the doorway, eyes widening in shock as he took in the scene.  However, he reacted quickly, unslinging his shotgun to aim it at me.

As fast as he was, though, I was faster.  I grabbed the barrel of the shotgun as he pointed it at me, and shoved it backwards, driving the butt of it into his stomach.  I then yanked the weapon out of his hands in an up and to the side movement, not only relieving him of the gun, but yanking him off his feet at the same time.  As he collapsed to the ground, I knocked him out with a kick to the face.

A yell sounded as another soldier entered through the doorway and headed straight for me.  With no time for anything else, I swung the butt of the shotgun like a makeshift club at him.  My aim was good, and I struck him across the face, dropping him instantly.

Suddenly, a hand gripped my shoulder and spun me around.  I turned just in time to see Marcus land a punch to the side of my head.  The force of the blow knocked me back to the wall and dazed me.  Before he could attack again, though, I raised a foot and slammed it into his midsection, stopping him in his tracks.  Then I raised my fists and pounded his face a couple of times, boxing-style.  It hurt my fists to punch a hard target like a man's skull, but I didn't care.  Another blow from my knee, and Marcus went crashing to the ground.

Three of my captors were down.  But there were two other guards, weren't there?  Where were they?

There was no time to look for them.  I rushed out of the cabin, frantically trying to figure out which way I was supposed to go if I wanted to reach the road.  I was surrounded by woods on all sides.  Where the hell was the way out?

There was only one way to find out.  I started running.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2015, 10:21:06 PM »
"Why are you showing us all this?" Blanko finally asked.

Wilmore slowly slid the files on the murder victims back into his briefcase.  He had spent the past fifteen minutes giving them a quick briefing on the situation.

"It's just something that you need to know."

Both Finns stared at him suspiciously.  Wilmore quickly asked them a question.

"How much exactly do you know about our organization?"

"What organization?" Mugthulhu asked, looking confused.

"NASA?" inquired Blanko.

Wilmore knew that his instincts weren't on the level of Tom Bishop's or any of the skilled agents he had worked with over the years, but he felt confident that he wasn't being lied to.  Blanko may have had the training and experience necessary to bluff him competently, but Mugthulhu certainly didn't.  The eccentric rock star had no more subtlety in his mannerisms and expressions than he did in his fierce outward appearance.  If he knew something, one could tell that he knew something.  If he was confused, one could tell that he was confused.  And right now, he was definitely confused.

"Dr. Bishop told you nothing about us, then?"

Mugthulhu shook his head.  "No.  He told us that he was quitting his job, but never what exactly he had been doing that was so secret.  Why are you asking us about this, anyway?  Are we suspects for these killings?"

"Not at all," replied Wilmore.  "I think you might be in danger, in fact."

Blanko laughed.  "You don't need to worry about us being in any danger.  I'm in charge of King Mugsy's security now, and considering what we've been through in the past, I've made some serious upgrades.  This building is completely safe, with a fully armed security staff.  And we're not leaving here until it's time for the concert."

"That concert may not be happening."

"WHAT!?" roared Mugthulhu, rage suddenly appearing on his features.

Wilmore shrugged.  "This is a serious situation, Mr. Mugthulhu.  We - by which I mean the government - have reason to believe that an open event like a concert could expose the public to harm, considering the fact that assassins may attempt to strike then.  So we might have to cancel the concert, in the interests of public safety.

Blanko laid a warning hand on his boss's arm.  "Maybe you should tell us why you feel King Mugsy is a target for your killers, Wilmore."

"Because," Wilmore explained, "We know that you're harboring a former employee of our organization here.  And if we know it, then the killers probably do too.  They'll go through you to get to her.  That's how determined they are."

"Her?  You mean -" Blanko began.

"That's right," Wilmore nodded.  "Natasha Gayer.  She's been working for you for a year now, hasn't she?"

"So what if she has?" growled Mugthulhu, folding his arms.

"Then she puts you in danger.  You need to let me see her.  Where is she?"

Blanko glanced at Mugthulhu, who shrugged and nodded.

"All right then, we'll take you to see her.  Or maybe it should just be me.  Mugsy, it might be better if you just continued on with your practice.  We don't want you unprepared for the concert.  Besides, I can take care of this."

"Fine by me," added Wilmore.

Mugthulhu shrugged again.  "If you say so.  But come back to me if there are any problems.  Don't worry about interrupting me."

As the great musician picked up his guitar and began tuning it, Blanko led Wilmore out of the dressing room and shut the door behind them.  He then turned to the two armed security guards on either side of the door.

"Horatio, Tausami."  Blanko nodded to each of them in turn.  "I'm taking our guest to the legal office for a while.  Until I come back, nothing changes in regards to our usual policy of rehearsal time.  Don't disturb the boss.  Don't let anyone else disturb him.  You can reach me on the radio if you need me, but only if it's important.  You know the drill."

"Yes, sir," Tausami replied.

"Good."  Blanko turned to Wilmore.  "Let's go."


As the two men's footsteps faded away, the two security guards waited until they could hear the familiar sound of guitar strumming coming from the dressing room.  Then Tausami turned to Horatio with a grin.

"The legal office.  That's where Gayer works.  We're going to get two for one, just like I promised."

"That's assuming we can get them," Horatio reminded him.  "If we hit them when they're all meeting in the office, then we'll have to kill Blanko as well, not just Wilmore and Gayer."

"As long as you do what I say, when I say, we'll get them.  Remember, I was a Navy SEAL."

Horatio nodded, slightly placated.  "And the money is good?"

"One hundred thousand dollars if we kill one of them, two hundred for both.  And yes, the guy who's paying it can and will deliver.  We fought together in 'Nam.  I'd trust him with my life."

"That's a hundred grand each!"

Tausami rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, I can do the math, Horatio.  So, are you ready for this?"

His partner nodded.

Tausami drew his weapon.  "Then let's move."


After ten minutes of crashing through the trees and other forest growth, I finally paused to lean against a large oak tree, breathing hard.

This was ridiculous.  My escape from Marcus had seemed like a good idea at the time, but I had no idea what I was doing now.  I was traipsing through woods, dressed in a suit and tie, completely unarmed, without any sense of where I was now.  I clearly hadn't gone in the direction we had come from, or I would have already reached the road.  But was the road even clear?  For all I knew, Marcus had already called in reinforcements from the military police.  They could be setting up roadblocks, sweeping the woods for me, anything.

And it didn't look like it would be too hard for them to find me, either.  I had cut a wide path through the brush, leaving a fairly obvious trail behind.  My formal clothes kept catching and tearing on the branches and thorns, making it almost impossible to try and leave no trace.  My best hope, I calculated, was to try and get out of the woods as quickly as possible.  All I needed to find was one unguarded exit, then I could disappear once I was out of the wilderness.

Gathering my energy, I resumed my rush through the woods.  I had been running for less than thirty seconds when I collided with another man, sending us both crashing to the ground.  We both quickly scrambled to our feet, ready for action.

The man was undoubtedly another one of Marcus's MPs, young and dressed in fatigues.  His rifle had flown from his hands when we had plowed into each other, but his fists were up and in a combat stance.  The next moment one of them was hurtling towards my face.

I ducked out of the way as his punch soared past my head harmlessly.  To retaliate, I fired two quick jabs at his unprotected side, softening him up.  He buckled, dropping his guard completely, and I aimed another brief strike at his vulnerable nose, a deceptively-sensitive target.

True to form, it was an effective blow, and the soldier staggered back, screaming in pain.  Seizing him by the shoulders, I crunched my knee into his stomach, then spun him around and smashed him face first into the nearest tree.  A small amount of blood and bark showered into the air, and the MP fell over backwards, out cold.

I quickly removed the man's sidearm and slid it into my waistband.  His rifle had fallen on the ground close by, and I hefted it into the air, looking it over.  I couldn't be certain, but I believed that this was the newest assault rifle for certain parts of the military, the AR-15, although its official designation was now M16.

I had never used this rifle before, which normally would have been a problem for me, but I didn't have the luxury of picking and choosing weapons.  After checking the magazine and safety of the rifle, I tossed the sling over my shoulder and continued my trek, keeping an eye out for other soldiers.

After a few minutes of wading through the wilderness, I thought I saw what seemed almost like a miracle: A shimmer of light in the distance.  I picked up the pace, turning my brisk walk into a run again.  The light grew brighter and brighter, until I finally burst out of the woods and onto a sunlit rural road.

I breathed a great sigh of relief, which died in my throat as it occurred to me that I still had a problem.  I was dressed in a tattered and bloody suit, holding an assault rifle, standing on the side of the road.  What was I supposed to do, hitchhike?

No sooner had that ludicrous thought crossed my mind when I saw a silver car appear around the corner and head straight for me.  Remarkably, the driver didn't stop and reverse once he saw me, nor did he even accelerate to try and get past me quickly.  In fact, he actually slowed to a stop beside me, put the car in park, and rolled down his window.

"Hey, pal, got a problem?"

I could only stare in disbelief.  The driver was a young redheaded kid, probably only in his early twenties.  Everything about him screamed rich.  The car he was driving was a Porsche, although I wasn't sure what specific make it was.  The kid was dressed in an expensive shirt and pants, and festooned with gold chains, rings, and necklaces.  He was even wearing a pair of Ray-Bans.

And here he was stopping for someone who looked like me.  Well, I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I whipped the M16 off my shoulder and aimed it at him.  "Get out of the car!"

The kid looked shocked.  "Huh?"

"Get out of the fucking car!  Now!"

"Hey, look, pal -"

When holding someone at gunpoint, the general rule is never to get within striking distance of them, because that obviously takes away the advantage of distance.  However, in this case, I felt I could handle this rich kid, and I didn't want him to suddenly try to accelerate away.

As quickly as I could, I yanked open the car door and dragged the spluttering driver out.  As I had guessed, he had neither locked his doors nor fastened his seat belt, so it was a smooth operation.  True to his fearless (or perhaps senseless) nature, he still refused to back down.

"What the fuck are you doing!?  You know who I am?  You know who my family is?  I'm Ethan Sokarul!  Of the Sokaruls!  You can't do this, pal!  Aw, fuck!"

Keeping the barrel of the M16 trained on him, I climbed inside the Porsche myself and settled down behind the wheel.  To Sokarul's credit, at least he didn't try to attack me.  I didn't want to hurt the kid, no matter how obnoxious he was.  However, I did notice that the shades had fallen off his face as I had pulled him out of the car.  Picking them up, I winked at him, then put them on myself.  Maybe that was a little bit cruel.  But it felt good.

Putting the car back into drive, I accelerated down the road, leaving the cursing and screaming Sokarul behind.  I paid him no more attention in my mind.  I was already focused on more important matters.

Like clearing my name.

And finding out who had set me up.

And most importantly of all, why.


Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2015, 10:24:31 PM »
Chapter II

It hadn't been a good morning for Jeff Mykael.

Almost being killed by two knife-wielding Vietnamese thugs and having to be rescued by a middle-aged college professor was a bad enough start, but since then things had gotten even worse.  At the base, the man he had apprehended, Ken Bushido, confessed that the man who had sent him was none other than the same professor who had just incapacitated him, Tom Bishop.

It did seem a little bit strange to Mykael that Bishop had saved his life from thugs he had himself employed, but his counterpart from CID, Andrew Marcus, was convinced it was true.  He had demanded to take control of the next mission, where he would arrest Bishop and interrogate him.  That left Mykael with the job of transporting Bushido, now in protective custody, to the FBI holding facility in Dallas, Texas.

Mykael was currently riding in the passenger seat of an armored FBI van.  Another agent sat next him in the driver's seat.  And of course, the mysterious Vietnamese prisoner, Bushido, remained in the back.  Coupled with the fact that Bishop was already being interrogated by Marcus, he should have felt safe and secure from any enemy action.

But he didn't.  And his fears proved justified after less than an hour of driving.

They were driving on a narrow countryside lane, not having seen another soul for over twenty minutes, when they suddenly came upon a black Mercedes parked directly in front of them, blocking the road.  The windows were tinted, but Mykael was certain that the car was occupied, no doubt with people ready to ambush him the moment he approached.

"Wait!" Mykael cautioned, as the other agent made to open his door.  "This isn't right.  We're being set up here."

"Set up?  What are you talking about?"

Mykael gestured to the rear compartment of the van.  "They want to kill Bushido so he can't testify against them!  When we get out of the van, they'll attack us!"

"You don't know that," objected the driver.  "Besides, we need to get that car off the road."

"Well, yeah, but -"

Their arguing was interrupted by the door of the Mercedes swinging open.  Both men stiffened, but the only thing that emerged from the car was a man, slowly, as if in surrender.  He was tall, burly, and black.  In fact, he looked just like -

"Son of a bitch!" hissed Mykael, swinging open his door.  "It's Vongeo!"

It was indeed Samuel Vongeo.  The lieutenant colonel stood perfectly still, his arms raised.  Even as both agents drew their service weapons and aimed them at him, he made no move, except to speak.

"FBI!" Vongeo boomed.  "I'm here to turn myself in!"

"Excuse me, sir?" Mykael asked.

"Didn't you hear me, son?" shouted Vongeo.  "I'm innocent, and I'm eager to prove it.  Just give me that chance!"

Mykael nodded, relieved.  Remembering what had happened to him earlier, though, he turned to the other agent.

"You cuff him.  I'll cover you."

The other agent slowly walked up to Vongeo, ready to handcuff him.  Mykael kept his gun trained on the surrendering Marine officer.  With his attention focused on Vongeo, he didn't see the other man until he slammed into him, knocking him over.

Mykael lost the gun in the fall, but quickly sprang to his feet, ready to fight back.  His attacker, a tall, thin man, dealt Mykael a sharp blow to the temple.  Mykael swayed, but remained standing, and managed to duck the next punch, and then landed one of his own on the side of the man's head.  His attacker stumbled to one knee for a second, only to rise again and resume the fight.  Blocking Mykael's next swing, he smashed his fist into the FBI agent's ribs, knocking the wind out of him.  As Mykael desperately tried to breathe, the man wound up and sent an uppercut into his chin, knocking him off his feet.

The intruder quickly retrieved Mykael's gun and aimed it at him.  "Don't move!" he barked, revealing a British accent.

Weakly, Mykael turned his head to see Vongeo removing the weapon from the other agent's unconscious form.  Obviously, it hadn't been hard for him to get the better of his partner.

"Thork, are you all right?" the Marine officer asked, turning from the senseless agent.

"I'm fine," Thork replied, keeping the service revolver pointed at Mykael.  "You, get up."

Mykael slowly obeyed, keeping his hands in the air.

Vongeo walked to the back of the van, holding the keys he had taken from the driver.  After a few attempts with different keys, he finally opened up the rear compartment.  Mykael and Thork both watched curiously.

"What the hell?!" snarled Bushido, springing up from the bench he was sitting on; as a cooperating witness, he hadn't been manacled for the ride.  Seeing the two intruders, his expression turned to fear.  He started to yell - or perhaps scream - something, but Vongeo slammed the armored doors shut, drowning him out.

"You're too late, you know," warned Mykael, as the two men headed for the front of the van.  "Bushido already told us what he knows.  Killing him won't help you."

Thork climbed into the driver's seat, but Vongeo paused and turned to face Mykael.  He finally spoke:

"No, son.  He told you what he wanted you to hear.  But that doesn't make it true."

"What are you talking about?"

"I meant what I said to you earlier."  Vongeo paused.  "I am innocent, and so is Tom Bishop.  And I'm going to prove it."

"Tom Bishop?" repeated Mykael.  "How do you know about him?  And how did you know about Bushido?  What the hell is going on?"

Vongeo only smiled at him, before climbing into the van next to Thork.  The van started up and headed down the road, leaving the two FBI agents behind.


"Gayer works in our legal department," explained Blanko, as he and Wilmore walked down a hallway.  "Well, we don't really have a legal department, but she's a paralegal and assistant to our in-house lawyer, Howard P. Crustinator, another Brit like her.  Anyway, she goes to law school at night."

"I never would have thought of Gayer as a lawyer," commented Wilmore.

"Yeah, she's full of surprises.  Anyway, here we are."

They had arrived at the end of the corridor, where a wooden door stood.  There was no plaque or name tag on the door, but that was hardly surprising, seeing how Mugthulhu had only rented the studio.  Blanko knocked.

"Come in!" boomed a deep voice.

Blanko swung open the door, and he and Wilmore entered.  Behind a desk covered with papers sat a stout old man with white hair and a mustache.  He sprang to his feet and extended his hand immediately to his visitors.

"Mr. Blanko, what a delight to see you!" cried the man in a jovial British accent.  "Who is your guest?"

"Michael Wilmore, Deputy Director of Space Operations, NASA," offered Wilmore, shaking the outstretched hand.  "I take it you are -"

"Howard P. Crustinator, attorney-at-law."  The man bowed low.  He seemed quite friendly for a busy lawyer being interrupted from work.

"We're here to talk to Gayer, Crusty," said Blanko.

Crustinator's mouth opened in shock.  "Gayer?  But she isn't here!"

"What do you mean?" Wilmore asked.

"She didn't make the trip here at all!  She's still back in Finland!  Didn't I tell you?"

Blanko gave a contrived chuckle.  "You must not have.  Sorry about this, Mr. Wilmore.  I suppose you should be in Finland if you want to talk to Gayer, not here."

Wilmore narrowed his eyes.  "You must think I'm stupid."

"Excuse me?"

"You really expect me to believe that all this time Gayer was in Finland, and neither you nor King Mugsy knew about it?  Give me a break.  You're hiding her.  Where is she?"

"Dear sir, I can assure you -" Crustinator began.

"Shut up!" snapped Wilmore.  He turned back to Blanko.  "No more bullshit.  Where is she?"

"We have done everything you asked, Wilmore," Blanko calmly replied.  "We made a good-faith effort to find Gayer for you.  She isn't in the country, and the record confirms that.  We also have several witnesses who can verify us going out of our way to cooperate with you, as well the security camera footage."

"The concert -" growled Wilmore.

"Whether or not the concert happens is not at your discretion, so you're just making empty threats now - "bluffing," I believe, is the American expression.  If need be, we can request a ruling from a judge on the subject, as well as an injunction against the federal government to stop it from interfering.  No tangible evidence suggests that the concert will be a threat to the public.  Do you really think that a judge will side with you over us?"

Clenching his fists, Wilmore looked away in anger.  This was a setup, he was certain of it.  Mugthulhu must have contacted Crustinator while he and Blanko were heading to him, warning him to get Gayer out of the way, as well as participate in the cover-up.  And the worst part was that Blanko was right.  Nobody could legally be required to talk to government agents.  Threatening the concert was a no-go as well.

No doubt this had all been done at Gayer's request.  She hadn't left MAGIC while being on the best of terms with the other members, but Wilmore had hoped that she wouldn't carry a grudge and would want to help them with their crisis.  Obviously, he had been wrong.

"All right," Wilmore finally said, struggling to contain his anger.  "You want to play it this way, fine.  But grant me one indulgence - the next time you talk to Gayer, tell her what I said about her being in danger, and ask her to contact me.  She knows how to find me."

Wilmore turned on the spot and opened the office door.  Two security guards stood behind it.

Blanko smiled.  "These men will escort you from the studio, Mr. Wilmore.  We don't want you getting lost, do we?"


Tausami and Horatio had reached the legal office before Blanko and Wilmore, their plan being to burst in guns blazing while they were all together, kill them all, and leave the building quickly.  But as they walked down the hallway, they were surprised to see the door open, Natasha Gayer step out and walk quickly down the hallway in the opposite direction.  Tausami smiled at the attractive brunette as she passed them, but she paid them no heed and continued to hurry on.

"What's going on?" asked Horatio, looking down the hallway after her.

"Something's not right," muttered Tausami.  "Quick, in here."

The two men stepped into an abandoned office.  Keeping the lights off, they peeked surreptitiously through the window in the door, maintaining a view of the legal office's door.

"I hope we're not discovered here," Horatio said worriedly, wondering how they could possibly explain two men together in a darkened room with nobody else around.

"Be quiet.  Look!"

The two guards watched as Blanko and Wilmore walked down the hallway, knocked on the door of Crustinator's office, and entered.

"Gayer must not want to chat," whispered Tausami.  "Let's just wait for a while..."

After a few minutes, during which angry voices could be heard, the door to the office was opened again, and Wilmore stepped out, flanked by two other guards.  They proceeded down the hallway, past the office, and out of eyeshot.  A few moments later, Blanko and Crustinator exited the office and hurried down the same way.

The coast now clear, Tausami opened the door to their hiding spot, and the two men stepped out of the office and began heading back towards Mugthulhu's room.

"So much for the plan," Horatio muttered dejectedly.

"Actually, the plan just got a lot cleaner," answered Tausami, thinking quickly. "We now have the perfect opportunity to approach Wilmore, and we can get the job done in a private spot, instead of the studio with a hundred potential witnesses."

Horatio glanced at Tausami quizzically.

"In fact, I'll do it myself."  Tausami looked at his watch.  "It's one.  As far as anyone knows, I'm on my lunch break.  So cover for me on this end."

Horatio nodded, and his partner jogged off towards the exit.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2015, 01:17:19 AM »
After driving for about fifteen minutes, I was certain that I had put some distance between me and the forest where I was being held.  But where was I now?

By studying a few road signs I passed along the way, I realized that I was about thirty miles south of my hometown, Dallas.  Some of my friends and family lived in Dallas.  Was there anyone there I could trust enough to help me deal with the FBI and CID?  Friends, family?  They were all probably already being watched.

Another car drove past me in the opposite direction.  I froze instinctively, but it wasn't a police car, and the driver didn't pay me any attention.  But it got me worried anyway.  I had taken off my jacket and tie, and I was wearing my new pair of aviator sunglasses, but I was by no means disguised.  Once Marcus put out an APB for me, if he hadn't done it already, every lawman in Texas would be searching for me.  And out here in the rural country, I stuck out.  I needed to blend in somewhere populated.  That meant I had to get to Dallas.

Pulling over to the side of the road, I opened the glove compartment and rooted around inside, looking for some kind of road map.  If I was going to Dallas, then I wanted to take the most backcountry road that I could find.  The police would most likely be watching the highways and major roads, and if Sokarul had already reported his car stolen, it wouldn't be very hard for them to spot me.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I found no map.  Apparently, Sokarul was not the type to plan out his road trips.  But I did find something else that was interesting: A ticket to a concert playing that night of the famous rock musician, King Mugsy.

I raised an eyebrow at this.  King Mugsy, along with his bodyguard, Jon Blanko, had crossed paths with me five years ago, during the last mission I had performed for my government.  I had saved their lives, and they in turn had played an integral role in helping me stop the threat to the United States.  In spite of this, however, we weren't really friends.  We corresponded a few times, and I told them about my decision to resign from NASA, but that was about it.  The fact was that we really had nothing in common.

But they certainly owed me a favor from our last encounter.  And maybe they could help me.

Finally making my decision, I pulled the car back on the road and started driving north.  I was going to have to risk traveling on the highway to get to Dallas.  I was going to see King Mugsy again.


"Agent Marcus, sir?"

Marcus waved off the paramedic attending to the cut on his bald head, and turned to the sergeant rushing up to meet him.

"We've got a witness here," reported the sergeant, ushering forward an angry-looking redheaded young man.  "His name is Ethan Sokarul, and apparently Bishop just stole his car."

"Not just any car!" screamed the angry youth.  "It was my Porsche 550, the greatest car that was ever made!  And that asshole stole it from me!  He just showed the same thing that everyone did to me.  Even when I first started driving the car, people couldn't handle me having such a beauty.  He just tried to attack me because he couldn't do anything else."

"All right, calm down, son," said Marcus firmly.  "Your name is Ethan Sokarul?"

"Of the Sokaruls."

Marcus hesitated.  "I don't think I recognize that name.  What does your family do?"

Sokarul sneered.  "Of course you don't.  You're not important enough.  But it's okay.  I am smarter than you.  I have more money than you.  I have more friends than you.  My family line makes your look like a line of homeless people.  You will never be as great as I am and will be.  You can't even touch me."

Marcus ignored this.  "Son?  Your family?"

"The mining industry," replied Sokarul, throwing his chest out haughtily.  "The biggest in Texas.  William Harutsedo is my uncle."

This name Marcus did recognize.  Harutsedo was a wealthy industrialist and oil magnate, perhaps one of the most powerful in Texas, if not the whole country.  He wouldn't be a good man to have as an enemy of the investigation.  However, he might be a good man to have as an ally.  If Bishop had been so unlucky as to rob his nephew, Harutsedo could very well be sympathetic.

"We'll talk to your uncle, Mr. Sokarul," Marcus said.  "And we'll do our best to get your car back.  Now, if you could give me just one second here -"

He drew the sergeant aside.  "Take him to the FBI and get those details out there.  Description of the vehicle, license plate number, etc.  Bishop probably won't hold onto the car for much longer, if he hasn't dumped it already, but we have to make the effort anyway.  And update our warning about Bishop's capabilities to them.  They need to know exactly who they're dealing with here."

The sergeant nodded.  "What should I tell them?"

Marcus didn't hesitate.  "Bishop has extensive combat training, both in armed and unarmed combat.  We know that he's stolen military-grade weapons from us, and he's willing to use them.  I'm certain that he's involved in the assassination conspiracy, so he may not be traveling alone.  He is absolutely a danger to anyone who gets in his way.  If anyone - state, federal, or local - spots him, they call for backup and then move in."

"Parameters for use of force?"

That was an odd way of phrasing it.  Marcus shot the sergeant a look.  "We're not on the battlefield, soldier.  These are civilian law enforcement agencies, searching for a civilian."

"I understand, sir, but concerning a man like Bishop...I only mean..."

"I know what you mean."  Marcus thought for a few moments.  "Just like with any other criminal, the rules still apply.  Of course we take him in alive if at all possible.  I certainly haven't finished talking with him.  But officer safety is still paramount.  Deadly force is always an option if he tries to escape or threatens innocent life."

The sergeant nodded, and escorted Sokarul off.

Marcus remained behind.  Lighting up a cigarette, he thought about the game would change from here on out.  The FBI would brief state and local law enforcement agencies.  Bishop's picture and description would be broadcast all over the country.  Everyone would be on the lookout for him.

By the end of the day, Tom Bishop would be the most wanted man in America.


"But I'm convinced that they're lying." Wilmore concluded.

Mrs. Peach frowned.  "You're convinced?"

"It doesn't make sense.  Gayer wasn't just some intern they hired.  Mugthulhu and Blanko both knew who she was when I said her name, and they probably know about her working with us.  They both acted like she was here, and then suddenly it turns out that they were wrong and she's back in Finland.  That's not right.  Call it instinct, but I know she's here.  She just doesn't want to talk to me for some reason."

"So now what are we going to do?"

Wilmore shook his head.  He had hoped that Mrs. Peach would have had some ideas.  Even though she was only in her thirties, the young MAGIC agent had a sharp mind, and was always a good person to turn to in a crisis.  Apparently, this was the exception that proved the rule.

"There's nothing we can do, really," sighed Wilmore, looking back at the studio he had just been thrown out of.  "I tried to warn Gayer.  She doesn't want to listen, and I can't force her to.  Let's just hope that we take down the killers before they set their sights on her."

He turned to the two FBI agents who had escorted them to the studio, neither of whom offered an opinion, and rotated his finger in the air to signal that they were leaving.  Just then, a voice rang out.

"Mr. Wilmore, sir?"

All four of them wheeled around suspiciously.  Approaching them from the direction of the studio was a man with a buzz cut and the build of a serious weight-lifter.  He looked familiar to Wilmore, but he couldn't remember where he had seen him before.

The burly man held up his hands in apology.  "Sorry, didn't mean to surprise you.  My name's Cole Tausami.  I was one of the guards inside."

Wilmore nodded, remembering.  "Yeah.  You and that other guy, Horatio.  Right?"


"What can we do for you?"

Tausami smiled.  "Nothing.  But I can do something for you."

"What is it?"

"What you wanted Natasha Gayer it important?"

"Very important," said Wilmore solemnly.  "We believe that she may be in danger."

The guard hesitated.  "I don't want anything to happen to Gayer.  Not that I know her very well or anything, but she's always been a nice lady.  I could probably lose my job for this..."

Wilmore said nothing, waiting him out.

"I overheard my boss talking about what they just did to you.  But they're lying.  Gayer's definitely here in America.  I've seen her a dozen times in the studio."

"Do you know where she is?" Wilmore asked eagerly.

"They smuggled her out of the studio.  She's almost definitely gone to the apartment that she rented while she's here."


"It's in the northern part of Dallas.  You take a right on the main highway...maybe it would be better if I showed you.  It's kind of complicated to describe."

"Great!"  Wilmore couldn't believe his luck.  "All right, climb into the car.  It might be a little squashed, but you can take the passenger seat if you want."

Tausami nodded, and followed one of the agents to the other side of the car.  As the agent leaned over to open the car door, Tausami suddenly drove a clenched fist into his ribs.  The agent crumpled on the spot, and Tausami quickly reached into the man's jacket to withdraw his service revolver.  He fired twice at point-blank range, and the weapon's previous owner collapsed to the ground.

With a shout, the other agent withdrew his own weapon.  But Tausami was faster, whipping the stolen gun around to him and firing three times, killing him.

Quick as always, Mrs. Peach sprang up to try and subdue Tausami.  As the guard started to aim the revolver at her, Mrs. Peach kicked him behind his kneecaps, causing him to both drop the weapon and fall to his knees.  But Tausami, even on the ground, managed to raise his elbow and sink it into Mrs. Peach's stomach, stopping her immediately.  On his feet a second later, he punched the young woman in the jaw, then seized her head and smashed it through one of the car's windows.  Mrs. Peach twitched, and then lay still, slumped in her awkward position.

Wilmore stared at the scene, transfixed in his shock and horror.  Eventually, the security guard turned his attention to him.  The NASA man raised his fists defiantly, but before he could even try to throw a punch, Tausami hit him with a heavy blow to the side of the head.  Wilmore no sooner had hit the ground then Tausami smashed his boot into his face, knocking him out.

Tausami wasn't one to admire his handiwork.  His time in the SEALs had taught him that.  So he simply waited patiently for Horatio to roll the car up, as per his part of the deal.  It had been pretty obvious to the two of them that they would need to make a quick getaway, so they had planned ahead.  Horatio was to be the wheelman; Tausami was to do the heavy lifting.

To his credit, Horatio brought the car up to his partner within twenty seconds.  Opening the door, he stared down at the carnage.  "Christ!  You did all this?"

"Unfortunate but necessary."  Tausami picked up Wilmore's legs.  "Help me with him, would you?"

Horatio grabbed Wilmore by the arms, and together they carried the unconscious man to the trunk of the car.  Placing him inside, they shoved a rag in his mouth and bound his wrists and ankles together with plastic handcuffs.

"I don't see why we even need him to be alive," commented Horatio as they worked.

"We don't, really," answered Tausami.  "But I have a feeling that he might be of more use alive.  At least for now."

Horatio nodded and closed the trunk.  "So I guess we're done, then?"

"We sure are, Horatio," Tausami grinned.  He spread out his arms in the gesture of a hug.  "Ready for our payday?"

Laughing, Horatio joined the brotherly embrace.  As he did so, Tausami's hand whizzed towards his unprotected chest and made contact with a sickening squelching noise.

Horatio's eyes widened and he tried to pull away.  But Tausami held him tight with his other arm, stopping any struggling before it could happen.  It didn't matter, anyway.  The penknife that Tausami had stabbed him with had rammed through his chest and pierced his heart.  He was a dead man.

Desperately, Horatio turned to make eye contact with his partner, even as he felt himself fade away.  Tausami held the stare, penetrating him with his cold, steely gaze.  After a few seconds of this, Horatio's eyes rolled back into his head, and he fell limp.  Tausami released the body, which collapsed to the ground.

With a final glance at the scene, Tausami climbed into the driver's seat of the car, started the engine, and drove off. leaving Horatio behind with the rest of the dead.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2015, 01:19:29 AM »
What in the world was I looking at?

Getting into Dallas had proved to be easier than I had expected.  I just drove along the highway for as long a time as I dared, and then I quickly took the exit into the city.  Simply put, it worked, and I hadn't attracted any attention.  Perhaps Marcus hadn't warned the state police about me yet.

But now that I had reached the studio and turned into the parking lot, a sight unlike what I had expected met my eyes.  A beaten up-looking car sat in the middle of the lot, surrounded by at least half a dozen men dressed in the uniforms of private security.  Three bodies were lying close by, two wearing business suits, and another in the security uniform.

Getting out of the car, I was debating to myself whether or not it would be safe to approach the security guards, when a voice cut into my thoughts.

"Professor Bishop!"

I turned to see a young woman walk up to me.  Covered in cuts and scratches, I didn't even recognize her at first.

"Mrs. Peach?  Are you okay?"

She nodded.  "I'll be fine.  Is Marcus with you?"

"Marcus?  Uh, no.  We got separated.  It's kind of hard to explain -"

Mrs. Peach cut me off.  "Good.  I'd rather that the official authorities don't find out about this yet.  That's why I'm using the security staff here to help clean up."

"Find out about what?  What happened here?"

"It's a long story, Professor," said Mrs. Peach.  "And I can only explain half of it."  She gestured to a short man slowly approaching us.  "Fortunately, this man can explain the other half of it."

I stared at the newcomer.  "Blanko?"

Jon Blanko sighed.  "Tom Bishop.  I don't know if I should even be surprised to see you here."

Now I was getting impatient.  "Can someone tell me what the hell is going on here?!"


Blanko and Mrs. Peach took it in turns to explain the situation.  Mrs. Peach described the attack, which left two FBI agents and a security guard dead, as well as Wilmore most likely kidnapped.  Then Blanko took over, admitting to the earlier deception of Wilmore, whom Gayer had warned her boss before that she never wanted to see again.  He also confirmed that the assailant was former Navy SEAL Cole Tausami, based on Mrs. Peach's description of him.

It soon became clear to me that neither of them had any idea that I was a suspect in the MAGIC killings and currently on the run.  They would find that out sooner or later, but if I wanted their help, I was going to have make sure it was later.

"I think we may have a lead," I finally said.

"A lead on what?" Mrs. Peach demanded.

"On where this guy took Wilmore."

Both of them looked surprised by this, but I raised a hand to quiet them.  "It sounds to me like Tausami expected that Mrs. Peach would be killed.  I don't think he planned on leaving any witnesses to the attack."

"So what?" asked Blanko.  "Where does that leave us?"

"Check Tausami's employment file.  Look at his contacts listed, references, previous places of employment, everything.  See if there's anywhere he might think of to hide a hostage at.  If he thinks that we don't know who he is, then there's a good chance that he might feel comfortable going to a place that he's familiar with."

"You don't know that for sure," Blanko objected.

"Of course not.  But look at the facts here.  He murders three people, two of whom are FBI agents, tries to make it four, and kidnaps a senior government official, all while he's supposed to be on the job.  You told me that Wilmore's visit here was a surprise to everyone.  I'm no detective, but I'm all but certain that this was a crime of opportunity.  He acted on the fly, and now he's reacting on the fly.  We won't have to look far to find him."

"All right, so you find him.  Then what?  Look, I know you're good, Bishop, but so is Tausami.  And if there really is a conspiracy of thugs killing your people, then he won't be alone.  We should call the police."

"He's right," Mrs. Peach agreed.  "I want to keep the FBI out of this scene just so it doesn't become a media frenzy, but there's nobody else who can do a better job of getting Wilmore back in one piece."

"No!" I yelped, sounding far too panicky.

They both stared at me wordlessly.  Quickly, I cast around for an excuse not to call in the FBI.

"The FBI won't be able to handle this quickly and quietly.  They'll come after Tausami with sirens blaring and making a show of strength, and then we'll go into the song and dance of hostage negotiations.  As much as I hate to say it, this isn't all about rescuing Wilmore.  Whether we can save him or not, we'll also need to lean on the kidnappers to find out who hired them and why.  Doing things the legal way will take too long."

Actually, that was a fairly valid reason.  But Blanko still didn't buy it.

"Then you're dead, Bishop.  It was nice knowing you.  Sorry, but the two of you won't stand a chance by yourselves."

"We won't be by ourselves."


"Could you give me Natasha Gayer's address?"


"You said that she didn't want to talk to Wilmore."  I smiled grimly.  "But she will talk to me."


Gayer's residence was in the outskirts of Dallas, a suburb rather than the bustling city center.  In one sense, I was grateful for that, as there were less people around, and therefore less likely for me to attract attention.  However, the circumstances made me wonder.  If Gayer was traveling with King Mugsy, and therefore only staying in Dallas for a few days, how did she manage to get an actual house in the suburbs, rather than one of the many apartments for rent?  Were these houses for rent as well?

Shaking my head, I perpendicular parked on the side of the road.  I would have pulled into the driveway, but it was already full with three cars in it.  According to Blanko, Gayer lived alone.  So why were there so many cars there?  Was Gayer throwing a party?

Getting out of the car, I approached the front door and knocked on it.  There was no answer.  Frowning, I tried the doorknob, and the door immediately swung open.  Odd.  Didn't Gayer lock her door?

I had only taken a few steps into the house when I heard the footsteps.  Not the rushed pace of someone hurrying, but the slow and steady tread of someone trying to sneak up on their quarry.  I wasn't alone in the house.

I ducked just in time for the baseball bat to whip harmlessly over my head.  The bearded man wielding the bat took a moment to recover from his miss, and then swung again.  I leaped backwards to avoid the blow, but the end of the bat still glanced against my right hand.  It stung like hell, and I dropped my gun.  But now that I had observed my attacker swing his weapon twice, I realized that he had a weakness I could exploit.

The bearded man aimed another swing at me with the bat, but this time, I was ready for him.  Ducking under the blow, I sprang forward just as the bat passed the apex of its curve, forcing its wielder to recover before striking again.  I threw one punch at his stomach, and then another at the side of his head.  My attacker collapsed, dropping the baseball bat.

Footsteps sounded from behind me.  I seized the baseball bat and spun around to face this newcomer.  No sooner did I see the glitter of metal from a weapon in his hand then I hurled the bat at him.  The man screamed in pain as the bat bounced off his head and shoulders, and staggered back.  He didn't fall to the ground as I had hoped, but it really made no difference, as I was already sprinting as fast as I could right at him.  We collided with a mighty crash, sending his gun sliding across the ground, with me on top of him.  Using my left arm to pin him by his throat to the ground, I raised my right fist, ready to mercilessly pummel him.  But once I got a good look at his face, I stopped.


The man I was choking couldn't do anything more than gasp and splutter under my weight.  But it didn't matter.  I still knew who he was.  I slowly got up, and then helped my former colleague to his feet.  Behind me, the bearded man I had earlier overpowered was also rising.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded.

His face still red, Raist glared at me.  "We're helping you, Bishop.  Or at least, trying to."

"Trying to?  What are you talking about?"

Before Raist could answer, the bearded man staggered into view, and then walked through a door into another room.  He seemed completely unconcerned with me.

"Okay, first of all, who is that guy?"

"That's Parsifal," grunted Raist, massaging his bruised throat.  "He went and grew a beard after he was laid off."

"Laid off?" I asked, confused.

"Oh, yeah.  It turns out that MAGIC is into downsizing these days.  I got kicked out, Parsifal got kicked out, Vongeo got kicked out, hell, even the limeys were dumped."

Raist's tone sounded almost sarcastic, as if he didn't believe what he was saying.  I wasn't sure that I did, either.  Wilmore and Marcus had told me earlier that Vongeo was cut loose from MAGIC because he had to go to Vietnam.  But what was the point of dismissing Raist, a skilled aerospace engineer, and Parsifal, a technology expert?  What could possibly have happened that meant the conspiracy suddenly didn't need them anymore?

"I don't think I understand," I began.

It was then that I saw two figures step out from the doorway that Parsifal had just gone through.  One of them I recognized instantly.

"Hello, Tom," Gayer said calmly.

The man she was with, however, I had never seen before.  He was tall and thin, with long dark hair and a solemn, serious face.

"This is Oscar Thorpe," Gayer added, seeing my confusion.  "He's from the United Nations."

"What?  The United Nations?  Seriously?"

"This is hardly a joking time, Professor Bishop," replied the man.  His accent sounded northern, possibly Canadian.

"It's a long story, Tom," Gayer warned me hastily.

I sighed.  "Then you had better tell me it."

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2015, 01:23:50 AM »
Donnie Raist, Steven Parsifal, and Natasha Gayer.  Three people I had thought that I would never see again.  And here they were, all together in a house in Dallas, Texas.  Why?

"We're glad you made it here, Tom," Gayer said.  "We don't have much time if we're going to save Wilmore, and find whoever framed you for the assassinations."

"There's time enough to explain to me what's going on," I replied sharply.  "First of all, how do you know about Wilmore?"

"Mrs. Peach called us with the news, just a few minutes before you arrived.  She must have forgotten to say that you were coming, though.  We owe you an apology for the welcome we gave you."

"We owe him an apology?" muttered Raist incredulously, rubbing his throat again.

I ignored him.  "Why would Mrs. Peach call you?  You resigned from MAGIC."

Gayer nodded.  "I did, about a year ago.  I started going to law school, and went to work for King Mugsy.  But I could never forget MAGIC, and what they were doing.  All the lies, all the money stolen...whenever I would talk to Wilmore, he would play the victim.  He kept saying that they were all fooled by John Davis and Daniel into starting the conspiracy in the first place, and they had no choice but to keep up the deception.  But that's not stopping them from taking full advantage of their position.  Take Kennedy saying that the United States is going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade."

"I highly doubt that the President of the United States is aware of MAGIC."

"I don't think that he knows about it either.  But do you see what I mean?  This is going to turn into another money-making opportunity for MAGIC.  Millions and millions of dollars will just end up in their pockets.  They're not showing any signs of slowing down.  So, three months ago, I decided to take action."

"What did you do?"

Gayer paused.  "I went to my father's oldest friend, Oscar.  My father died a few years ago, but he and Oscar worked at the U.N. for almost twenty years together.  If I had gone to anyone else, they would probably have called me crazy, but Oscar is different.  I convinced him of the truth, and we were going to take down MAGIC, once and for all.  Correction, we are going to take down MAGIC."

"And we're going to do it right," Oscar added.  "We have no desire to start a war between America and the rest of the world."

"How are you going to do that?" I asked.

Oscar looked uneasy.  "We're still working on that.  There's been a problem."

"Some members of MAGIC started getting 'fired,' for lack of a better term," Gayer continued.  "Someone in MAGIC must have heard about the U.N. investigation, and decided to close the ranks.  Raist, Parsifal, Vongeo, Eddy Bayber, and David Thork were all booted out without a word of explanation.  But that turned out to be a mistake for them.  I contacted them all, and they've agreed to help with the investigation.  Even Mrs. Peach is helping us, although she's still a part of MAGIC.  She's acting like a whistleblower of sorts.  Our man - well, woman - on the inside."

"We call ourselves 'The Elder Ones,'" Parsifal declared proudly.

"No, that's what you call us," Raist shot back.  "You just want a stupid vanity title so that you can feel better about yourself."

I silenced the two of them with a glare.  "Where do the killings feature in?"

"I suppose MAGIC realized after a while that just firing their people wasn't working.  So they started firing at them.  Sorry, bad joke," Gayer offered, the slightest hint of a smile on her face.

"And then they framed you, Tom," Oscar concluded.  "They set up a Swiss bank account in your name and wired a significant amount of money into it.  Then they sent a couple of agents to break into your house one night, giving them instructions that if they were ever caught, they were to point the finger right at you."

I slumped into the nearest chair, my mind whirling.  All this time I had assumed that it was a former insider, possibly Vongeo, who was responsible for the killing.  Never once had I suspected that people within MAGIC had orchestrated the killings themselves.  Daniel the puppet master was pulling the strings once again.

And what was Wilmore's involvement in all this?  True, he had been targeted just like the rest of the victims, but unlike the others, he had been taken alive.  Could the supposed kidnapping really have been just a cover to get him out of the picture quickly?  After all, he was a senior MAGIC member.  Would Daniel really have seen him as a security risk and decided to have him killed?  Or had Wilmore been helping him all along?

It wasn't the first time that I had doubted my former boss's goodwill.  But as I thought about it, I realized that it didn't matter.  At least not for now.  Whoever had given Tausami the order to take Wilmore was the same person behind the killings and throwing the suspicion onto me.  Whether or not Wilmore was a fellow conspirator, finding him would find the culprits.  That being said, however, I definitely needed to have a heart-to-heart talk with him once we found him.  He had to have heard about the UN investigation before.

"So, what do we do now?" I asked.

"The others arrived back just a few minutes before you did," Gayer said.  "They're down in the basement with him."

I blinked.  "Sorry, with whom?"

"The only person we know for sure is part of the conspiracy," replied Oscar.  "The same person who lied to Marcus and the FBI to implicate you."

The realization hit me with a jolt.  "Bushido?  Ken Bushido?  How - how did you find him?  Wasn't he in FBI custody?"

Oscar smiled.  "Follow me to the basement.  I think you might want to catch up with some old friends."


As Oscar had said, hanging around outside the basement door were Sam Vongeo, David Thork, and Eddy Bayber.  After some awkward nice-to-see-yous, we got down to business.

First of all, Thork and Vongeo explained to me how they had ambushed Mykael and abducted Bushido.  Not only was I impressed, but for the first time since I had gone on the run, I felt hopeful that my name could be cleared.  If the Elder Ones could take out an FBI van and two agents so easily, then they surely would be able to assault wherever Wilmore had been taken and rescue him.

The hard part, of course, would be getting Bushido to tell us where that place was.

"How do you want to do this, Tom?" asked Vongeo, casting a wary eye at the door.

"I'll go in alone," I said.  "I don't want this to seem like a controlled interrogation.  Let's make it look more like I just wandered in there to beat the shit out of him."

Nobody argued with me, so I opened the basement door and walked downstairs.

There he was.  Bushido stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, with nothing to do but wait.  His eyes narrowed in both fear and anger as I approached him.

"Afternoon, Ken," I smiled and spread my arms wide.  "So much has happened since we last met, don't you think?"

Bushido said nothing, he just sneered at me.

I decided to cut to the chase.  "Who sent you?  And where is he now?"

"I won't say anything, you bastard!" Bushido suddenly shrieked, apparently losing control.  "I'll kill you with my bare hands!"

And then he attacked, throwing a punch at me.  I lashed out with my left hand and seized his wrist, stopping the momentum of the punch instantly.  Before he could react, I fired a jab of my own straight into his face, knocking him over.

With a groan, Bushido rose to his hands and knees.  But I wasn't playing around.  Stepping forward, I savagely kicked him in the stomach, sending the Vietnamese man sprawling once again.

My hands locked around Bushido's throat, and I dragged him to his feet.  Next, I punched him in the face.  Then again.  And again.  And again.

"Answer my fucking questions!  Now!" I roared at him.

Bleeding heavily, Bushido narrowed his eyes defiantly, and spat blood at me.

Furiously, I tightened my grip on his throat.  The man's face turned red, and a loud, choking sound emerged from him as he started to gag.

"Tom!  What the bloody hell are you doing?!"

It was Eddy, climbing down the stairs.  He looked shocked as he surveyed the scene.

"I'm getting answers from him," I replied bluntly, dropping Bushido to the floor.  "This is only going to be as bad as he wants it to be."

"If you beat him up enough," warned Eddy, "He'll just tell you whatever you want to hear.  That won't necessarily make it true!"

"What are you talking about?  I'm not looking for a confession to a crime here.  He knows who sent him.  Either he'll tell me, or he'll lie.  And I'll know if he's lying."

Eddy frowned.  "Okay, then.  If you're sure.  Also, Mrs. Peach is on the phone for you."

He held out the phone for me, which I took.  "Peach?"

"Tom!"  I could hear voices in the background.  "I've got some bad news.  Blanko heard the news about you.  I tried to stop him, but he called the police.  The FBI are arriving right now.  I'm sure Marcus is with them."

"Shit!"  I tried to think.  "You had better get out of there, Peach.  Marcus isn't stupid.  He'll figure out that you're helping us."

"I will.  But you had better get out of there, Tom.  Blanko will tell them where he sent you.  It won't be long before the cops show up to arrest all of you."

This wasn't good.  I wasn't done with Bushido.  Transporting a prisoner while on the run from the law would be very, very difficult.

But Mrs. Peach wasn't done.  "There is one silver lining, though.  Before we heard the broadcast Marcus sent out, we looked up Tausami's work history.  And there's one place in particular worth looking at."

"Go on."

"It's the main office of the industrialist, William Harutsedo, right here in Dallas.  Tausami returned from Vietnam three months ago, and he spent a month working at Harutsedo's office before going to work for Mugthulhu.  It's slim, but what interests me is the fact that he would list a place that he only worked for a month at on his resume.  It doesn't really look good to leave a job after working there for only one month.  And yet Harutsedo apparently gave him a good reference."

I thought about it.  I wouldn't have expected that a prestigious businessman like Harutsedo would be involved in something as sordid as this.  But could we really afford to write this connection off as a coincidence?  What if Tausami had left his job and gone to work for Mugthulhu on orders from Harutsedo, as a way of keeping tabs on former MAGIC employee Gayer, and possibly killing her if need be?

Then I had an idea.  Keeping one eye on Bushido by my feet, I said into the phone, "The office of William Harutsedo, right?"

"That's right," Mrs. Peach replied.

But I was more interested in Bushido's reaction.  To my satisfaction, his eyes widened, and he stared up at me in shock.  I smiled triumphantly down at him.

"I think we just got confirmation of your idea, Peach."

Hanging up the phone, I turned to Eddy.  "Let's go."

I began to head up the stairs, until a loud yell from behind drew my attention.  Wheeling around, I whipped my pistol out of my waistband and aimed it.

Despite his rough treatment, Bushido had managed to leap to his feet and grab Eddy from behind in a brutal-looking chokehold.  The smaller man struggled to get free, but Bushido had him by the throat, effectively cutting off all resistance.  And yet the Vietnamese man made no threats or pleas.  Was he really trying to escape?

Either way, it made no difference to me.  I fired.

The round struck Bushido in the throat, knocking him back against the basement wall.  He slowly slid down the wall, leaving a bloody smear behind.  A few moments later, his eyes glazed over and he stopped breathing.

Free of Bushido's grasp, Eddy stumbled forward, trying to catch his breath.  Without saying a word, I put my pistol away, turned around once again, and walked up the basement stairs.  Still recovering from what just happened, Eddy followed on my heels.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2015, 01:25:43 AM »
"William Harutsedo," I announced to the assembled group, resulting in general murmurs of shock.

"The businessman?" asked Thork, raising an eyebrow.

"Are you sure he's telling the truth?" Gayer quickly asked.  "Bushido lied once before."

I shook my head.  "It wasn't like that.  Mrs. Peach mentioned him as a possible suspect, because Cole Tausami had worked for him recently.  When I dropped the name to Bushido, his reaction told me it was true.  Eyes don't lie.  Harutsedo is definitely the one who gave him his orders."

"You know, Tom," Raist pointed out, "If Harutsedo is involved...he probably owns at least ten buildings in Dallas alone.  Tausami could have brought Wilmore to any one of those places.  How do we find out which one?"

"I don't think Tausami would have been thinking like that, Raist.  All the facts point to Wilmore's abduction being a crime of opportunity, not premeditated.  If Harutsedo and Tausami had been planning this out for a while, then yes, they probably would have arranged to bring Wilmore to a prearranged location, like one of his warehouses or manufacturing plants.  And there they would have made sure that only guards who could be trusted to keep quiet would be stationed there, and that the regular employees would have stayed home that day.  But seeing how this wasn’t planned, Tausami doesn't have the luxury of a nice safehouse already prepared for the prisoner."

"So what's your point?" demanded Raist.

"Tausami isn't bringing Wilmore to a place.  He's bringing him to a person.  The only person he knows he can trust."

"Harutsedo," said Parsifal, stating the obvious.

"So we should be going to Harutsedo's main office?" asked Gayer.

I nodded.  "I think so, yes."

There was silence for a moment as we all contemplated the idea of attacking the office of the powerful industrialist William Harutsedo.

"You're crazy," Raist finally said.  "It can't be done.  He probably has twenty bodyguards surrounding him at all times.  It's suicide.  I'm not doing it."

"I wouldn't expect you to, Raist," I replied.  "Nor Parsifal.  You don't have the right training to take on a task like this.  So we're going to split up.  While the rest of us try to save Wilmore, the two of you will get out of here before the FBI shows up.  We can meet again at uh, some kind of rendezvous point, maybe?"

"I know a place we can meet at," offered Oscar.  "In fact, I'll go with Raist and Parsifal to make sure they stay out of trouble.  Gayer knows where I'm talking about."

"Great.  And the rest of you, you're coming with me.  Any questions?"

Eddy cleared his throat.  "Shouldn't we have, I don't know, a plan of some kind?"

I paused to consider this.  He was right.  We couldn't just go in and start shooting.

Vongeo spoke up.  "I have an idea."

I had almost forgotten that Vongeo was here.  I looked at him carefully.  He was still as powerful and imposing as ever, but like Wilmore, he had changed a lot over the last five years.  Much of his hair had turned gray, and he had even grown a short beard, something that would never have been allowed if he were still in the military.

It also occurred to me that I needed to talk to Vongeo about the events of the day so far.  I didn't suspect him of any involvement, but he seemed to have an unexplained connection to what was going on, like the two Vietnamese thugs who had been searching his apartment.  Did it have anything to do with his time in Vietnam?

That conversation, however, would have to wait.  There was no time to discuss it now.

"All right, what's your idea?"

Vongeo outlined a plan that would hopefully get us into the building without sounding an alarm or causing Harutsedo to panic.  It wasn't bad.  In fact, I was impressed with its simplicity.

"Of course, we'll need to figure out who will 'lead' the attack, so to speak," concluded Vongeo.

"I'll do it," I said.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Gayer objected.

I turned to look at her.  "Why not?"

Gayer looked uneasy.  "You're basically the center of all this, Tom.  The security people there will probably know what you look like.  Your cover could be blown before you reach the front desk."

"I can wear sunglasses," I countered, raising the Ray-Bans I had taken from Sokarul.

"Still, though...look, you're not even dressed right.  Your suit is dirty and tattered.  No one will believe that you're-"

"There's a way around that," Oscar unexpectedly said.  He studied me for a moment.  "Yes, I think he's about the right size.  One of the old suits upstairs should fit him.  With your permission, of course, Natasha."

Gayer frowned and folded her arms.  "All right, then."

"Excellent.  I'll be back in a moment."  Oscar hurried out of the room.

"What's he talking about?" I asked.

"This used to be an unofficial home for U.N. employees when they were stationed around here," Gayer answered.  "Oscar offered it to me when he heard that I was coming here.  Anyway, one or two of the employees kept clothes here."

"Okay, but why did he want your permission?"

"Because he's talking about getting you a suit that my father wore.  You two are about the same size.  Well, were about the same size."

I had nothing to say to that.


"Are you sure this is a good idea, Tom?"

I glanced over at Gayer, sitting next to me in the passenger seat.  She still had an uneasy, concerned look on her face.

"Are you still worried about them recognizing me?  Look, we're going to be fine.  I'm wearing a clean suit and sunglasses, and the last they're going to be expecting is the fugitive Tom Bishop walking through their doors.  Trust me, Gayer, getting into the building without them sounding the alarm is going to be the easy part."

"I know."

This surprised me.  "Then what's your problem?"

Gayer sighed.  "It might not be such a good idea for you to be coming with us.  At all."

Dumbfounded at such an abrupt vote of no confidence, I almost drove off the road.  Managing to regain control without causing an incident, I shot an angry look at Gayer.

"What the fuck are you talking about?!"

"I'm just worried about your personal connection to this," Gayer said quickly.

"My personal connection...?"

"Come on, Tom, you know what I'm talking about.  You're not fighting for your country anymore.  You're fighting for yourself.  They framed you for the killings.  So you're-"

"So I'm obviously going to be impulsive and reckless, as this challenge to my personal life has clearly unhinged me.  I'm going to shoot first, ask questions later, and eventually wind up in even more trouble by the end of the day.  Is that what you're trying to say, Gayer?  That I'm a lunatic on a roaring rampage of revenge, straight out of a Hollywood movie?"

Gayer looked shocked.  "What?  No!"

"Good.  And if it makes a difference to you, don't say that I'm fighting for myself.  Say that I'm fighting for the UN, like the way you and the others are.  This isn't just to clear my own name, after all, right?  We're trying to bring down MAGIC permanently."

A hopeful look spread across Gayer's face.  "Tom, are you saying that you're going to help us to destroy the conspiracy?  Your testimony could mean a lot."

Testimony?  It sounded like Gayer was asking for some kind of a commitment to the cause.  In truth, I wasn't sold on the entire UN idea.  To begin with, even if it was unfair to blame them rather than MAGIC, the fact remained that the whole mess had begun because of their investigation.  Also, did they have a chance of being successful?  And if they were successful, how would they do what Oscar had said they would do, break the news without inviting worldwide hatred towards America?

The plan sounded more and more unlikely to me the longer I thought of it.  Still, after what I had just said, there was really only one answer I could give.

"Of course."

It was a lie, of course.  But lies were nothing new to me.  I had inadvertently helped lie to the American people during the time I had worked at NASA.  I had lied to my students at Rice as I taught them geology, knowing that many of the facts weren't true.  And now I was on my way to confront the biggest liars in the world once again.  In light of all that, lying to people I had once considered my friends didn't seem so terrible now.

So it was really all justified, at least to me.  And that was the worst lying of all, the lies that I told myself.


Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2015, 01:35:08 AM »
Chapter III

Michael Wilmore had no idea where he was or what was happening.

While he remembered his assault and kidnapping, and even somewhat recalled the uncomfortable ride in the trunk of a car, once the car had stopped, someone had forced a hood over his head.  Then he was being forced to walk; into a building was his best guess.  He had stood still for about a minute; he was fairly sure that this was an elevator ride.  Then he had been marched once again for a few moments, and then abruptly stopped.

"All right, take it off."

The voice sounded familiar to Wilmore.  Before he could place it, however, the hood was torn off his face, and he could see freely.  The speaker was a man he was well acquainted with.


William Harutsedo smiled at him from behind his desk.  "Hello, Mike.  It's good to see you again.  I'm only sorry it couldn't be under better circumstances."

"What the hell is this?!" Wilmore demanded.  At his side, Cole Tausami cut the plastic bonds that had been restraining his hands behind his back.

Harutsedo shook his head.  "Mike, I know you're smart.  You didn't really think that MAGIC was just going to stand by while the United Nations dismantled us, did you?"

"MAGIC?" repeated Wilmore, incredulously.  "Are you saying that the recent assassinations are part of a MAGIC operation?"

"Of course."

"Then why wasn't I informed beforehand?  I'm in charge of MAGIC operations in America.  You're supposed to tell me before you do anything here!"

Harutsedo nodded.  "I understand, Mike.  But in this case, your exclusion from the loop was necessary.  You were too close to the mole.”

"Mole?  What mole?"

"We're monitoring the U.N. investigation.  We have people there.  And they were coming up with lots of information about us.  Current information.  Information that could only have come from someone who was still a member of MAGIC."

Wilmore glared angrily at Harutsedo.  "You had better not be accusing me-"

"I'm not.  I'm talking about your assistant, Mrs. Peach."

"Mrs. Peach?" Wilmore was shocked into silence for a moment, and then regained his defiant tone.  "You could have just told me."

"No, I couldn't," Harutsedo replied.  "I couldn't take the risk that you would accidentally tip her off, or try to take care of her yourself.  I'm counting on her, ignorant of us knowing the truth about her, to lead my men right to the base of the U.N. whistleblowers."

"Huh?" The confusion on Wilmore's face was evident.

Harutsedo paused.  "Dionysios believes that everyone who has been fired from MAGIC recently has joined up with Gayer and her contacts in the U.N.  Desperate for revenge, they will be only too happy to help them bring us down, especially if they've been offered immunity in exchange.  Put another way, they have formed a resistance movement."

Wilmore felt dizzy.  "Gayer?  She's the one who started all this?"

"Yes, Mike.  I'm sorry.  I know that she's a friend of yours."

"She is," Wilmore admitted.  "Or at least she was.  We had something of a falling-out about a year ago, when she left the organization.  Still, I never thought that she would betray her country like this.  I was planning on warning her about the killings, for Christ's sake!"

After a moment's pause, Wilmore looked up at Harutsedo.  "So what's the plan?"

"Didn't I just tell you?  My men have kept a watch on Mugthulhu's studio ever since you and Tausami left it.  They will follow Mrs. Peach to the hideout of these "resisters," and wipe them out."

"And they can get the job done?" asked Wilmore, thinking about the skill and experience of some of the recently dismissed MAGIC employees.

"Absolutely," Tausami assured him.  "Dionysios and I used our connections to help put the team together.  They're all very capable professionals."

Wilmore began to speak again, but Harutsedo abruptly rose from his desk.  "I'm sorry, Mike, but while I know you have more questions, it's time we left.  There's a helicopter on the roof waiting for us to board."

"We're leaving?" Wilmore gasped, taken aback.  "Why?  You said that the resisters will be eliminated.  We're not in any danger here, are we?"

Harutsedo laughed.  "Who said anything about being in danger?  Dionysios simply wants a face-to-face, that's all."

Which was true, but only partially.  Harutsedo had been warned by his men watching the studio that Professor Thomas Bishop had also shown up at the studio, and left abruptly after speaking to Mrs. Peach and Mugthulhu's head of security, Jon Blanko.  Half an hour later, the report that Bishop was a wanted criminal came through on the radio, and only then did Mrs. Peach leave the premises.

It was because of this news that Dionysios had ordered Harutsedo to take Wilmore out of the country, and more specifically, to him.  Harutsedo wasn't afraid of Tom Bishop, but orders were orders, and he had to obey.  He was also warned not to mention Bishop at all to Wilmore, the logic being that ignorance was best for him until he met up with Dionysios.

As the three men prepared to walk out of Harutsedo's office, the buzzer on his desk rang out.  Frowning, Harutsedo pushed the answer button.  He was about to speak when the woman on the other end frantically cut him off.

"Mr. Harutsedo, there are two FBI agents here at the front desk asking to see you.  I know you've got a trip planned, so I don't want to hold you up, but -"

"That's fine.  Just send them up."


Andrew Marcus stubbed out his cigarette on the roof of the government car as he looked around.  He had headed straight for the studio the moment he heard the news about the sighting of Bishop there, but it had still taken him almost half an hour to arrive at the scene.  The local police and FBI had already swarmed the place by now.  There were suits and uniforms all over.


Marcus turned to see Jeff Mykael hurry over.  "Glad you're here.  You heard about what happened to me, didn't you?"

"Yes, I heard," Marcus said impatiently.  He had been furious about it, too.  It was yet another sign of Mykael's youth and inexperience that he had been overpowered by the ambushers, and now they had lost an FBI van and their informant, as well as an opportunity to apprehend two suspects.

There was nothing he could say about it to Mykael now, though.  They had more important work to do.  However, as soon as he had the opportunity, Marcus was going to request that Mykael be replaced on the case with a more experienced agent.

"Mugthulhu isn't cooperating, is he?" asked Marcus, glancing over at the studio.  The rock musician was slumped against the wall of the building, his head hanging in sadness.  Marcus wasn't sure if his depression was due to the massacre outside his doors, or the fact that said massacre had forced the cancellation of his concert.

"Sort of," answered Mykael.  "He told us what he knew about the murder of the agents and Wilmore's kidnapping willingly enough, and it's been corroborated by the footage from the security cameras in the parking lot.  We've already put out an APB on Cole Tausami.  Where he started fumbling, though, was when it came to Bishop.  I think he's lying about something."

"What did he say?"

"That Bishop showed up, asked a few questions about what had happened, and then abruptly left, not saying where he was going.  I don't believe it.  Something just doesn't ring true to me.  But I don't know why he'd want to help Bishop escape."

"Don't be an idiot, Jeff.  He wants to help Bishop because of their history together, five years ago.  You should have read about it in the case file.  He may even think that Bishop is innocent.  And don't forget about Natasha Gayer, who's supposed to work here.  I don't suppose she's here, is she?"

"No.  Blanko said she felt sick, so she didn't come in -"

"Bullshit.  I'm going to send an armed team to raid her home right now.  And I'll do the same to Mrs. Peach's, although I don't expect either one to be there.  They may not be involved in the conspiracy, but I want everyone who was present here to be rounded up.  My instincts are telling me that what happened here is the key to everything.  We need to have the answers."

Mykael nodded.  "What should I do?"

Marcus thought for a moment.  "I want you to tail Blanko and Mugthulhu as they leave here.  Be discreet.  If a person of interest tries to contact them, we're going to need to know about it."

This got him a raised eyebrow from Mykael.  "Monitoring a rock star to see if he's in league with international assassins?  Is that really a good use of our time, Andrew?"

Marcus glowered down at Mykael.  "No.  It's a good use of your time."

The young FBI agent decided not to argue.


Mugthulhu was in shock.

"Concert cancelled.  Thousands of fans disappointed.  Three people murdered right outside my studio," he mumbled to himself, leaning on Blanko for support as he was led to his limousine.  "And worst of all, two of my own guards betrayed me.  I can't trust anyone these days!"

"You can trust me," Blanko assured him.

"Knock it off, Balkno.  You know I don't like gay emotional bonding."

"I'm sorry, sir.  All I'm saying is that it's not the end of the world.  The police will catch Tausami, Bishop, and everyone else who's involved in this whole thing before long.  And there will always be other concerts."

Blanko helped the great man into the backseat of the limo, and then headed around himself to the front.  He climbed into the driver's seat, shut the door behind him, and was about to turn the key in the ignition when he froze.

He could feel the cold steel of a gun barrel pressing up against the back of his neck.

"Don't move," whispered Mrs. Peach in his ear.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2015, 01:46:02 AM »
Vongeo's plan had worked perfectly.  With the FBI van, badges, and service revolvers he had stolen from Jeff Mykael and his partner earlier, the way was clear for Gayer and I, wearing dark suits and sunglasses, to impersonate FBI agents.  No one reacted suspiciously when the FBI van pulled into the parking lot of Harutsedo’s main offices, nor when the two "agents" climbed out and entered the building.  I was banking on the fact that Harutsedo had put too much effort into his business and public image to panic in the face of law enforcement agents.

After Harutsedo gave his approval to let us through, the receptionist led us down a hallway and up a long flight of stairs, where she handed us off to a uniformed security guard.  The man was heavily built, and carried not only a radio, but a prominent sidearm on his hip.  Without a word, he beckoned for Gayer and I to come with him.

We traveled down another long hallway, as I tried to surreptitiously peer through the doorways and see the level of activity in the rooms that we passed.  They were all empty, which struck me as being unnerving, as if they had been emptied.  But then again, I had no idea how Harutsedo normally organized the place.  Maybe these rooms were always empty.

Finally, we stopped at a large door at the end of the hall.  The security guard didn't knock, as I expected him to, but simply opened the door and walked through.  Gayer and I followed him inside.

This was no doubt the office of the head of the company.  The desk was made of some kind of fine wood, shining from a recent polish.  The wallpaper and carpeting in the room was far more expensive than those of anywhere else in the building.  And my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the letterhead on the desk, confirming the identity of its occupant, William Harutsedo.

The businessman himself was seated behind his desk, a short, squat man in his fifties, with thinning dark hair.  Before he could look up from the notepad he was writing on, I made my move.

Quickly withdrawing my weapon from my shoulder holster, I brought the butt of it down on the back of the guard's head, cold-cocking him instantly.  Even before the guard hit the ground, I lightly tossed the gun an inch into the air and caught it by the handle, its barrel pointed straight at Harutsedo.

Gayer closed the door behind us for some privacy, and then drew her own gun and stepped forward to back me up.

On the other side of the office, Harutsedo stared at us wordlessly, his open mouth communicating nothing but his complete and utter shock.  Before he could say anything, I took a step closer, removed my sunglasses, and looked him in the eye.

"You know who I am, don't you, Harutsedo?"

"You're Bishop," whispered Harutsedo. "Tom Bishop.  In my office.  Oh, God..."

"Where's Wilmore?" I demanded, cutting across his stream of verbal despair.


"Don't even start!" I roared, making even Gayer jump.  "You've been involved in this from the beginning, and it all started with framing me for the killings!  You found a way to plant half a million dollars in a Swiss bank account in my name!  You sent Ken Bushido and his partner to break into my home, knowing that it was being watched by federal agents!  And you gave them orders that if they were ever caught, they were to implicate me!"

Harutsedo shook his head.  "Listen to me, Professor Bishop.  You might not realize this, but your name and description have been broadcast over the radio and television.  Everyone in Texas is on the lookout for you.  I suggest you leave my building before someone calls the police."

This wasn't working.  I had been expecting violence, sudden action, maybe even a fight.  Verbally sparring with a middle-aged businessman wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I raised my gun higher and aimed it directly at Harutsedo's head.   "This is your last chance, Harutsedo.  Tell me where Wilmore is right now or I'm going to blow your fucking head off."

We stared defiantly at one another for several seconds.

"Fine," Harutsedo said abruptly.  "You want to know where Wilmore is?  I'll tell you."

Relieved at some cooperation finally, I slowly lowered my pistol.  The moment I did, Harutsedo immediately reached under his desk for something.

"Hands up!" I roared, my gun aimed at him again.  Harutsedo immediately withdrew his arm and raised them both in the air.  He had nothing in his hands, but there was a look of triumph that I didn't like on his face.  And a moment later, a loud beeping began.

The son of a bitch had triggered an alarm!

Before I could even react, a loud crash sounded as the door behind us was flung open.  I turned around just in time to see a huge security guard ram his shoulder straight into my chest.  The gun dropped from my hand and slid away on the floor, followed by me crashing down painfully to the ground.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harutsedo immediately rise from his desk and bolt out another door, one just behind him.

"Get after him, Gayer!" I shouted, still lying on my back.  "Go!"

Gayer hesitated for just one second, looking down at me - and then she chased straight after Harutsedo.  I could tell that she didn't think splitting up was a good idea, but the professional in her knew that I could take care of this guy.

And she was right.

From my supine position, I raised a leg and drove my foot into the guard's chest, staggering him.  Before he could do anything about it, I sent a horizontal axe kick crashing against his shoulder, sending him stumbling a few paces to the side.

I sprang to my feet as the guard reached for his sidearm.  Unfortunately for him, I was a lot faster, and my crescent kick connected with his gun hand before he could point his weapon at me, instantly disarming him.

The next move was mine to make, and I crushed his nose with a quick jab.  He reared away from me in pain, and I brought my elbow down on his vulnerable neck with a powerful strike, breaking it.  The man crumpled to the ground in a heap.

Turning away from the body, I headed straight for the door that Harutsedo and Gayer had gone through.  No doubt there would be many more armed men standing between me and Harutsedo, but that thought didn't deter me in the slightest.  If anyone tried to stop me, I would kill them.  It was as simple as that.


When the sound of the building's alarm began ringing across the parking lot, Vongeo figured that he had been given his cue to act.  Bishop and Gayer had clearly run into trouble, and now it was his job to get them out.

With Eddy and Thork on his heels, Vongeo marched into the building, doing his best to look intimidating and defiant, which wasn't hard for a man his size.

"FBI!" he roared.  "What's going on here!?"

Three security guards were the only people in the lobby.  They all had holstered sidearms, and one was carrying a shotgun.  None of them looked very friendly.

"This building is closed for the afternoon," one of the guards said curtly, stepping closer to Vongeo.

"Not for the FBI, it isn't," answered Vongeo.

The guard stepped closer still, and glared at the lieutenant colonel with narrowed eyes.  Vongeo's fear was confirmed when he spoke again:

"You're not FBI."

The guard's hand flew to his weapon.  The moment he unholstered it, however, Vongeo lashed out and knocked it from his hand, and then seized his arm and twisted it painfully behind his back.

Eddy and Thork were not idle.  Thork knocked over the guard closest to him with a punch, and then incapacitated him with a powerful kick to the head.  Eddy hurled himself at the other guard, knocking his shotgun aside, and latched his arms around his neck in a chokehold.  In spite of his superior size, the guard was helpless without oxygen to his brain, and soon passed out.

Vongeo continued twisting his prisoner's arm behind his back.  "What's going on here?  How did you know we weren't agents?"

"The boss said so!" yelped the guard through his pain.  "The two folks upstairs attacked him in his office.  He figured out that you were all fakes!"

"I see," growled Vongeo, not letting the arm go.  "So where is Harutsedo now?"

"I don't know, but I think he's going for his helicopter on the roof.  He was planning on flying somewhere before you showed up.  Don't ask me where, I don't know!  I'm just security!"

Vongeo threw the man to the ground and turned to Eddy and Thork.  "Are you ready, boys?"

"Ready here," replied Thork.

Eddy tossed Vongeo the shotgun the guard had dropped.  "This might be useful, Sam."

Examining the shotgun, Vongeo smiled from the nostalgia.  It was the Winchester Model 12, a sleek, 12 gauge pump-action weapon.  Even though he had usually served as a sniper, he had used this shotgun before, and knew how to handle it.

"Then let's go," the lieutenant colonel finally said.

Eddy and Thork drew their pistols, and all three men moved deeper into the building.



Hearing the voice so close, Harutsedo finally skidded to a halt, turned around, and put his hands in the air.

Gayer had finally caught up to him.  Harutsedo had run out of the back door of his office and darted through hallways as fast as he could, but the unfit middle-aged man was no match for the skilled British lady.  He was beaten.  Or so Gayer thought.

She didn't hear the footsteps behind her until it was too late.  She turned instinctively, but a fist crashed into her face, knocking her to the ground.  The next moment, two men pounced on her and snapped plastic cuffs onto her wrists, and then yanked her to her feet.

Tausami was there, the man who had hit her.  Behind him were several security guards, along with another one of her former co-workers, Michael Wilmore.

"Nice to see you again, Natasha," Tausami said cheerfully.  "It's a shame I didn't get to grab you at the same time as Wilmore, like I originally planned.  Would have spared us a lot of time and hassle."

Gayer spat at him.  Tausami's face froze in anger, but any retaliation was averted when Wilmore's voice rang out:

"What the hell is going on, Bill!?"

"Don't worry about it!" barked Harutsedo.  "We're leaving now, Mike!  Let's get to the helicopter, quickly!"

Wilmore cast a worried look at Gayer.  "What's she doing here?  What haven't you told me, Bill?"

Harutsedo wasn't listening.  "Tausami, I expect you think we should keep Gayer alive?"

"Yeah," said Tausami, tearing his eyes away from Gayer.  "At least until I'm done here."

"Done what?" gasped Gayer.

"What do you think?  I'm going to kill Tom Bishop.  And then I'm going to kill you too."

Before Gayer could react, the guards hustled her away as the procession to the roof continued on.  Left behind was Tausami, who turned and quietly stole back to where they had come from.  It was finally time to take care of the Bishop problem.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2015, 01:59:59 AM »
Harutsedo's building was a maze.

I sprinted through hallways and cut across offices.  I kicked down doors, vaulted across desks, and shoved aside every office worker who stood in my way.  None of them tried to stop me, and yet none of them were security personnel.  Why weren't they around?  And why wasn't I catching up to Gayer and Harutsedo?

Pausing in a deserted office to catch my breath, I tried to think rationally.  I wasn't catching up to Gayer and Harutsedo because they weren't in front of me.  I had traveled in a straight line, but Harutsedo must have taken an abrupt turn somewhere along the way, and of course Gayer would have followed him.  But where would he lead her?

At that moment, the radio hanging on my belt crackled.  I quickly grabbed it and switched it on.

"Tom!"  It was Vongeo.  "What's going on?"

I quickly ran him through what had just happened.  "I don't know if Gayer has Harutsedo by now or not.  But we need to cut off his escape route, just in case she doesn't.  He might try and get to one of the cars in the parking lot.  Grab him if you see him leave the building."

"That's not the way he's going, Tom."


"We interrogated one of the guards in the lobby.  He has a helicopter on the roof of the building.  He's going to make an aerial getaway."

I considered this briefly.  "Okay, then.  Sam, you and the Brits get out of here.  Find a way to get in touch with Oscar, or Mrs. Peach, or whoever.  But you've done all you can here.  Gayer and I will handle the rest of this now."

"What?!" barked Vongeo through the radio.  "Are you mad, Bishop?  We're here to help you kill all these assholes!  We can't leave now!"

"Yes, you can!  Look, if the alarm has gone off, then the police will be coming soon.  There's no point in letting them catch us all.  Besides, I have a plan.  I can't go into the details of it over an open radio channel, but what I have in mind is a two-person job.  Go!"

Before Vongeo could protest again, I switched off the radio and drew my gun again.  Thankfully, the blaring alarm had stopped ringing by now, although I was still certain that the police had been alerted.    Opening the door in front of me, I slowly stepped through, peering carefully all around me.

I was now standing in a large room, one evidently designed for storage rather than office work.  Wooden crates lined most of the walls, and many of them were stacked awkwardly at random places throughout the entire room.

And there were two guards, both drawing their weapons as they stared directly at me.

I threw myself to the ground as the gunfire sounded, ringing just over my head.  Prone, I returned fire at the nearest guard, killing him quickly.  I jumped to my feet to see the second guard duck behind a stack of crates for cover.  I had no idea what was in those containers, but I fired three times at them anyway.  My rounds punched right through the crates, and the man slumped to the ground dead behind the crates.

That came as a surprise to me.  My pistol's ammunition wasn't weak, and it could certainly penetrate wood, but not much else.  What was in those crates?

I walked over to the stack I had just fired upon and lifted the crate I had shot off of it.  One of my bullets had shattered the lock, so I was able to remove the lid.

No wonder I could fire through this crate.  It was filled with T-shirts.  There was no sign or logo on any of them, just plain cotton T-shirts, although in a wide variety of colors.  Odd for a heavy-industry manufacturer to carry this, but fortunate for me.

Returning to the chase, I headed for a door I saw opposite from the one I had come through.  I needed to get to the roof quickly if I had any chance of getting there before Harutsedo took off.

As I neared the door, however, a tall man suddenly stepped into view in the doorway.  He was holding a shotgun, aimed at my chest.

I reached for my pistol, but he was faster.  He fired, and a heavy projectile struck me in the torso, throwing me off my feet and onto my back.  Blinded by the pain, and struggling to breathe, I felt rather than heard the heavy footsteps approach me.

I opened my eyes just in time to see the man shove his knee onto my chest, pinning me to the ground.  In the next moment, he had drawn a long and sharp combat knife and put it to my throat.  I didn't even dare breathe while the teeth of the knife rested on my jugular vein.

My attacker reached into my suit and withdrew one after the other my gun, my radio, and my wallet.  He finally removed the knife and climbed to his feet, looking through my wallet.

It then occurred to me that I should have been dead by now.  Only I wasn't bleeding.  I must have been hit by a non-lethal round.  But this was of no comfort to me.  This man was no friend of mine, and he could kill me at any time he chose.  Whatever had hit me had virtually incapacitated me, and I was still in no position to fight back.

"Mr. Harutsedo?" the man said abruptly into a radio of his own.  "This is Tausami.  Bishop is down, and I have confirmation of his identity.  Permission to complete termination?"

I couldn't hear Harutsedo's response over the radio, but I didn't care.  I was focused on the detail my attacker had just revealed about himself.  I wasn't dealing with an amateur thug working as a security guard.  This was Cole Tausami, former Navy SEAL turned mercenary.

The man replaced his radio on his belt and looked down at me.  "So, is it true?"

"Is what true?" I mumbled.

"You won three Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, and one Silver Star during your time in the Marines?  And you had over twenty confirmed kills in the last world war?  That's what it said in the file we had on you, but I can hardly believe it now.  This was just too easy."

"It's true," I said.  "But that was a long time ago."

Tausami laughed and drew his knife again.  "It must have been.  You weren't much tougher than your cute little friend Gayer was."

"Gayer?  You mean you -"

"She's not dead.  Not yet.  I figured that we might need her as a hostage to deal with you.  But now I see that we obviously don't."

He raised his knife again, and its deadly edge gleamed in the light, as if it was ready to be sunk into my throat.  I could think of only one thing to do.  Ignoring the savage pain in my chest, I rolled over onto my stomach and began to gingerly crawl away.

As I had hoped, Tausami was only amused by this seemingly weak attempt to escape, not infuriated.  And why shouldn't he be?  I wasn't going to be outrunning him on my elbows and knees, and especially not after taking such a knock to the chest.

I risked a quick glance over my shoulder to see if he was following me.  He was, and slowly, too.  He was even smiling slightly, like a hunter playing with its quarry before killing it.

But of course, that was his mistake.  He was so focused on me that he didn't notice until it was too late that I had led him directly next to one of the precarious stacks of heavy wooden crates.  And then I lashed out with my leg and kicked the stack near the base.  It collapsed, sending several of the crates down on top of Tausami.

However, even as I sprang to my feet, Tausami shrugged off the crates, giving no sign that he had been seriously hurt by any of them.  The only useful thing the crate avalanche had done was knock the combat knife out of his hands.  Did he really need it, though?

I was about to find out.  I had barely any time to react as Tausami swung his fists one after the other at my head.  My blocks were only partial ones at best, and even though both punches were only glancing, they still jarred me slightly.  Sensing weakness, Tausami stepped forward and threw a powerful-looking blow at my chin, one that could have felled a boxing champion.

This time, however, I managed to dodge the move entirely by ducking under it, leaving Tausami off balance.  I counter-attacked with a fury, first with a kidney strike to his unprotected side, then a swift punch to the side of his head.  Tausami sank momentarily to a crouch, but then sprang straight at me.  His shoulder collided painfully with my bruised chest, and the momentum of the charge, combined with his superior size and weight, sent me tumbling backwards onto the ground.

Groaning with pain, I tried to sit up, but Tausami kicked at me, one boot driving into my shoulder.  As I fell backwards yet again, he jumped on top of me and smashed his fist into my face.  This was followed by a sharp blow to my temple, and another.

As far as I could tell, nothing was broken or seriously damaged.  As blinding as the pain was, I managed to throw a punch of my own to his chin.  I couldn’t have hit him very hard, but Tausami still drew back from me instinctively.  The moment he did, I drew my knees up to my chest, effectively separating us.  Planting my feet on Tausami's chest, I shoved forward with all the strength of my legs, throwing him off me and onto his own back.

We both leaped to our feet again.  Apparently thinking of a new strategy, Tausami reached to his side and picked up one of the crates that had fallen on him earlier.    In a surprising display of strength, considering its weight, he hurled it at me.

I jumped aside as the crate shattered at my feet, scattering T-shirts across the ground.  Not wasting a second, Tausami reached for another crate and threw it at me as well.  I dodged this one too, but I had a feeling that I couldn't keep this up for long.  I had to do something.

As Tausami reached for a third crate, I quickly crouched and grabbed a fistful of T-shirts.  With a yell, I charged straight at Tausami, flinging the T-shirts at him ahead of me.

Tausami's instinct to protect his face from foreign projectiles won through, and he automatically raised his arms to beat the T-shirts cascading towards him aside.  That left me free to plant one fist in Tausami's abdomen, and another in his face.  I felt and heard a loud snap as his nose broke cleanly, and the man slowly sank to the ground.

It looked like the fight was mine.  But even as he lay on the ground, Tausami spun his leg around and kicked my legs out from under me.  I was only beginning to grasp what had just happened when I landed on my back.  In the next moment, Tausami brought his elbow up and drove it painfully into my face.

Tausami's bruised and bloody face appeared in my line of sight, hideously leering down at me.  Without even thinking, I reached up and twisted his broken nose as hard as I could.  Tausami screamed in agony and threw himself off me.  I climbed to my feet again and faced my enemy, whom I could tell I was beginning to wear down.

Blood running down his face, Tausami swung wildly at me.  I blocked the move and jabbed him directly in the throat.  Gasping for breath, the man staggered backwards, but I wasn't done with him yet.  Spinning my body around, I used both of my legs one after the after to deliver crushing side kicks to his torso.  Tausami staggered, but stayed standing.  I finally bowled him over with a simple roundhouse kick to his chest.

And I was met with a grisly sight.  Tausami landed on one of the fallen crates, which shattered under his weight, sending a large splinter ramming through his chest.  He twitched a few times, and then lay still.

It wasn't the most violent death I had ever seen, or the most painful, but the suddenness of it shocked me.  I would have had to kill Tausami anyway, but this wasn't exactly how I had pictured it.  Maybe with a gun or a knife, but not a splinter.

In any case, it really didn't matter.  I had wasted enough time in this room.  I needed to get to the roof, find a way to rescue Gayer, and stop Harutsedo before he took off in his helicopter and left me here.  The last thing I needed in my current situation was for the police to find me in a building full of people I had killed.

I gathered up my pistol, wallet, and radio and headed for the door again.  Now that the fight was over and the adrenaline was fading, I was beginning to feel the damage that Tausami had done to my body more vividly.  Nevertheless, I believed that I was in good enough shape to take on Harutsedo and the rest of his men.

Or at least, I hoped I was.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2015, 02:09:30 AM »
"Mrs. Peach?" Blanko asked incredulously.

"I'm sorry, Blanko," Mrs. Peach said, tucking her pistol back into her holster.  "I thought that the cops might have insisted on searching the limo before letting you leave.  Nobody's watching you, are they?"

"No," said Blanko, irritated.  "Wait, what's this about them searching our limo?  Don't they need to get a warrant first or something?"

"In theory, yes," Mrs. Peach replied darkly.  "In practice, not so much.  Anyway, let's just forget about that.  I need a favor from you.  That's why I'm here."

"And you've been here all this time?" asked Mugthulhu, sitting across from her on the other side of the passenger partition.  He had been surprised to see her sitting in his limo when he first climbed in, and even more surprised to see her immediately reach over the barrier between the passenger partition and the front section of the limo to put her gun against Blanko's neck.

"Don't encourage her," growled Blanko.  "No more favors, Peach.  I already lied to the police to give your buddy Tom Bishop a head start.  And I only did that because my boss insisted on it.  If you wanted to hide from the police, then you should have left before they arrived."

"This isn't about hiding from the police!" Mrs. Peach snapped.  "I'm only here so that I won't have to waste time talking to them.  This is about saving Tom and Gayer.  You do want that, don't you?"

Blanko rolled his eyes.  "I don't know if those two really did what the cops say they did, but even if they didn't, that's their problem to deal with.  We aren't getting involved anymore."

"Oh yes we are, Balkno," his boss corrected.

"What!?"  Blanko spun around to face the two passengers.  "Sir, we've got enough issues with the Americans as it is.  This one concert being cancelled will be the least of our problems if they get wind of us trying to help their fugitives!"

"You and I owe a great debt to Tom Bishop, Balkno," Mugthulhu said sternly.  "And Gayer is one of our own.  We don't leave people behind.  What do you need from us, Peach?"

"We need to use your plane.  Tom and Gayer have to leave the country, and the quicker, the better," replied Mrs. Peach.

"Done.  Balkno, get us over to my airstrip."

With one final shake of his head, Blanko started the engine, and then eased the limousine out of the parking lot and onto the road.  A few seconds later, Mykael pulled out of the parking lot in a nondescript FBI car and started off after them.


After climbing several flights of stairs, I was sure that I was finally getting closer to the roof of the building.  However, the exertion wasn't so good for my bruised and battered body, and I finally had to stop and take a moment's rest.

Part of the pain was to be expected.  My hands - particularly my knuckles - were aching after dealing out so many punches.  I knew a few tricks to throwing punches that minimized the harm to the hands, but hitting something hard with my bare hands still hurt.  And there was the general fatigue from throwing myself around all day - I had been up early, and it had to be about four or five in the afternoon by now.

But the one thing I was suffering from the most was the pummeling I had just taken from Tausami.  In particular, the non-lethal round delivered by shotgun.  The round had hit me pretty hard, and the right side of my chest was stiffening with every passing second.  I gingerly laid a finger on my rib cage to check the damage, and immediately winced in pain.  It was probably bruised all over.

If only I had been twenty years younger, a cocky young Marine again, fresh from fighting Nazis all across Europe.  I had taken plenty of hard knocks back in my prime, and always had managed to bounce back almost instantly.  But now I was forty years old, and I had been feeling the effects of my oncoming middle age for some months now.  It took a lot more effort to keep in shape than it used to.  My sandy hair seemed to be graying slightly.  Even my doctor had told me on my last visit that I might need to start wearing reading glasses soon.

Wearily, I rose to my feet and continued on.  There was one more staircase in front of me, and a door at the end of it.  A bright light shone through at the bottom of the door that looked an awful lot like the light of the setting sun.  I must have reached the roof at last.

But I didn't go through the door.  Instead, I stopped to think about the situation.  If Harutsedo had been able to take Gayer hostage, he probably had at least a few armed guards with him.  They would see me the moment I walked through the door and kill me.  I needed to take them by surprise if I wanted any chance of winning this fight.

I headed over to the nearest window and quietly slid it open.  The first thing I did was squint down at the parking lot a few hundred feet below me.  The FBI van was no longer there, which meant that Vongeo and the two Brits had left.  Good.  I had been serious about insisting that they leave earlier.  They wouldn't be of any help for what I had in mind.

Also, I could hear sirens in the distance.  I didn't have long before the police arrived and crashed the party.  I needed to move quickly.

I clambered out of the window as quietly as I could.  The roof was only a few feet above my head.  My arms straining to hold my weight, I grasped the edge of the roof and hoisted myself up in an awkward pull-up.

And then I heard footsteps.  There was no time to try and hide myself.  I could only watch as a guard peered over the edge.  His eyes widened in shock as he saw me.

Without even thinking about it, I reached up with my right hand and seized the guard by the scruff of his neck, and then yanked him forward.  The guard screamed as he tumbled past me over the edge.  I then pulled myself up and swung my legs over the edge, landing on the roof.

The first thing I noticed was a Thompson submachine gun lying on the ground, no doubt what the guard I just killed had been carrying.  I seized it promptly and aimed it at the next thing I noticed - or the next person, to be more accurate.


But he wasn't alone.  There were four other guards carrying Thompsons, all of them pointing directly at me.  There was also another man, presumably a pilot, inside a helicopter sitting on a landing pad.  And of course, Gayer and Wilmore were there, standing by Harutsedo.

I was on the verge of calling out a demand to surrender, but Harutsedo beat me to it and called out a demand of his own first.

"What the hell are you waiting for!?  Kill him!"

And then the air exploded with gunfire.


Gayer immediately sprang into action.  She knew that she most likely couldn't do anything about the guards firing submachine guns, but now that their attention was no longer focused on her, she could free herself and Wilmore.

With Harutsedo right behind her, Gayer raised her arms - her wrists still bound by plastic cuffs - and sank her right elbow into the businessman's large stomach.  Harutsedo staggered back in pain, and Gayer elbowed him again, this time in the chin.  Having created enough space between herself and Harutsedo, she then spun around and aimed a high kick at him.  Her foot connected with Harutsedo's face, knocking him off his feet and landing senseless on the ground.

The pilot sprang out of the helicopter, his eyes locked on Gayer.  Shoving Wilmore, who was frozen with shock from the sudden violence, out of his way, he threw a punch straight at Gayer.  The young Brit jumped aside and countered him with a knee to the crotch.  As the pilot winced in agony, Gayer raised her bound wrists and brought them down in a clubbing move on the back of his head.  The man slumped for a moment, but then abruptly rose and struck Gayer across the face with a sweeping backhand.  Gayer reacted instinctively, raising her leg and kicking the pilot in the torso.  A second kick hit him in the chin, sending him to the ground just like his boss.

The pilot down, Gayer turned back towards Wilmore, who was still standing in place, blinking like a deer caught in the headlights of a car.  But as she approached him, he suddenly seemed to snap out of it and urgently pointed over her shoulder.

"Look out!"

Gayer spun around to see the pilot rising unsteadily to his feet, a revolver of some kind clutched in his hand.  Although his aim seemed shaky, the short gap between them ensured that even a poor marksman could hit them within a few shots.  And Gayer and Wilmore had no weapon with which they could fight back.


I had made a serious mistake.

Instead of finding cover and pressing my advantage of surprise, I had revealed myself completely exposed to my enemies, whose superior numbers ensured that they had no need to surrender.  And of course, they didn't.

As bullets hurtled past me and chipped the ground around me, I did the only thing I could think of.  Firing a short burst from the hip, I leaped for cover behind a large air duct.  My wild shooting had no chance of hitting anyone, but as I had hoped, it caused the guards to scatter for cover themselves instead of shooting at me while I was unprotected.  Two jumped behind another air duct.  The other two tried to hide behind the helicopter, but I rose from behind my duct and fired at them.  The slower of the two took several rounds to his back and collapsed.

With a loud cacophony of metal on metal, bullets crashed into the duct as the guards returned fire, forcing me to duck back down again behind it.  When their guns fell quiet, I sprang up once again to shoot at them, but they were too well-protected.  What was more, I heard the ominous click signifying an empty magazine, and the Thompson stopped firing.

Swearing to myself, I slid back down behind the duct as the explosion of enemy gunfire started up once again.  There was an extra magazine lying on the ground where I had first picked up the Thompson, but after that, I was out of ammunition.

Risking a quick peek over the edge of the duct, I saw that one of the guards, probably not a very experienced one, had actually left his position behind the other duct and was approaching me.  That made my next kill that much easier, and I quickly dropped him with a few rounds to his upper chest, and then sprayed another burst at the remaining two men.

It was then that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Gayer and Wilmore standing at one side of the helicopter.  Facing them was a man I recognized as the helicopter's pilot, pointing a revolver at them.

Before I could do anything to help them, a loud boom sounded, and the pilot was suddenly blasted off his feet, a huge hole in his chest.  Both remaining guards stumbled out of their cover to try and focus on the new threat, and one of them also received a blast to the chest.

Although I was as stunned as they were, I still had the presence of mind to level the Thompson at the final remaining guard and squeeze the trigger.  He slumped to the ground as the last of my ammunition ran dry.

Dropping the Thompson, I rose and hurried over to Gayer and Wilmore.  The man who had suddenly joined the firefight was there also, cutting Gayer's plastic cuffs with a combat knife.

"What the fuck are you doing here, Vongeo?  I told you to leave!"

The lieutenant colonel smiled.  "So you did, son.  But I couldn't just let you play the hero all by yourself.  So I got the two Brits to leave, and I decided to stay behind and lend you a hand."

"And we're very grateful for that," added Gayer, stretching her now-free arms.

I ignored her.  "This has nothing to do with playing the hero.  I told you to go because you can't escape with us.  I was planning on using Harutsedo's helicopter, but there's only room for four people in it.  Believe me, I'd like to take you along and leave Harutsedo behind to explain everything to the police, but I can't.  I have to know what he knows."

Vongeo leaned on the Winchester shotgun he had been using, an intense look on his face.  "I figured that was your plan, Tom.  And it's my plan, too.  I'm going to stay behind and talk to the police."

"What?  Sam - apart from me, you're probably the biggest suspect right now.  Marcus will -"

"I know what he'll do, Tom."  Vongeo's voice was loud and confident.  "I know Marcus from my days in the military.  He can be an asshole, and he's too driven sometimes, but I know he'd never set someone up for a crime they didn't commit.  He's being duped just like the FBI.  If we can get him on our side, then we have a much higher chance of setting things right."

Gayer broke in.  "He's right, Tom.  You can't spend your entire life on the run, you know."

Maybe they were right.  Maybe they weren't.  But there was no time to argue now, as the sound of the oncoming sirens was growing even louder.  And it wasn't like Vongeo had any realistic chance of escape from the building.

I turned abruptly from them and faced Wilmore.  "Mike.  We'll talk later.  But right now, I need you to fly this helicopter.  You've gotten training for it from NASA, haven't you?"

Wilmore stared at me.  "Tom, I - uh, yes.  It was only basic training, though.  I might not be able to do it all that well -"

"You'll just have to do your best.  See if Gayer can help you as co-pilot."  I walked over to Harutsedo, who was lying groaning on the ground.  "Harutsedo and I will be having a little chat in the back.  Won't we, Bill?"

Harutsedo stared up at me in horror.  Satisfied that he was sufficiently terrified, I turned back to Wilmore, who was inspecting the helicopter.  It had taken a significant amount of damage during the gunfight.

"I think I can fly this," commented Wilmore.  "It's got a few holes in it, though."

"Don't we all," I said.

Saddam Hussein

Re: The Sequel
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2015, 02:14:34 AM »
In a few minutes, the helicopter was airborne, with Gayer, Wilmore, Harutsedo, and myself aboard.  True to his word, Vongeo remained behind on the roof of the building to confront the authorities.  I could see the first of the police cars pulling into the parking lot even as we soared away.  The only thing I could do for my friend now was wish him luck.

Turning away from the building, I could see that Gayer and Wilmore, sitting in the front seats, were both wearing radio headsets to communicate over the noise of the rotors.  Seeing another headset in a pouch on the door next to me, I slid it on my own head and switched it on.  For good measure, I reached over Harutsedo, slumped next to me, and grabbed the headset on the door next to him.  He didn't need to be listening to our conversation.

Wilmore looked at me over his shoulder.  "Tom, look, I know how lame this sounds, but you have to believe me when I say that I had absolutely no idea that MAGIC was involved in any of this.  I was never briefed on any -"

"Later, Mike," I said firmly.  "You need to focus on flying the helicopter.  Where are we going, Gayer?  That place where Oscar said we would meet up?"

Gayer sighed.  "He was talking about the Canadian consulate in Dallas.  But he didn't know that we'd be bringing along a prisoner.  We can't go there with Harutsedo."

"So then what are we going to do?"

"I'll have to risk trying to contact them with the helicopter's radio," Gayer muttered, reaching for the controls in front of her.  "But I'm not sure if we even know enough to make the next move.  Oscar said earlier that he was working on a way to find a plane to get us out of the country, but where would we go?"

"Harutsedo might be able to help us with that," I answered, turning to look at the frightened man next to me.

"He definitely will be," Wilmore said immediately.  "None of this was his idea.  He was taking orders from Armand Dionysios."

"Who?" I asked.

"Uh, well, long story short, I suppose you could call him the new leader of MAGIC, ever since Daniel disappeared.  He never leaves Europe, but he owns homes and businesses in most major countries over there, and he's always moving from one to another.  He's kind of paranoid like that.  But Harutsedo was planning on taking me with him to see Dionysios, so he'll be waiting in one place, and he'll be expecting visitors."

That was an interesting new twist, and certainly something worth confronting Harutsedo over.  While Wilmore and Gayer continued to try and send out a radio message, I roughly shoved the spare set of headphones onto Harutsedo's head.

"Can you hear me, Harutsedo?"

The businessman gave no reply, but from the look on his face, I was sure that he could hear me perfectly.

"Where's Armand Dionysios?" I demanded.

Harutsedo was undoubtedly a hardened negotiator from his many years in business, but there was a world of difference between a discussion with a rival and an interrogation from an armed captor.  I could see his recognition of the name in his eyes.

"Where is he?"

Harutsedo scowled at me.  "I'm not talking, Bishop."

I smiled grimly.  "Oh, yes you are."

Before Harutsedo could react, I fired a kick at the passenger door next to him.  It burst open, exposing the interior of the helicopter to the open air.  My foot then drove into Harutsedo's chest, knocking him out of his seat and into the wild blue.

Gayer and Wilmore let out panicked yells as the helicopter swerved off course from the shock of what I had just done.  Not heeding any of it, I quickly scooted across the back seat and grabbed onto the lapels of Harutsedo's suit before he could plummet three hundred feet to the ground.

"Where is he?!" I roared at Harutsedo.  The businessman had lost his headphones in his fall, but I knew he could understand my urgency.  In stark contrast to the calm image he had presented in his office, he had now lost all composure, his pale face revealing how terrified he really was.

"You fucking madman, Bishop!  Let me up!" he shouted.

"I won't ask you again, Harutsedo!"  I meant, it too.  My arms were rapidly tiring from holding Harutsedo's bulky form up.  "Where is Dionysios!?"



"Geneva, Switzerland!  Just let me up, damn it!"

With the last of my strength, I dragged Harutsedo back into the helicopter and looped my arms around his neck in a chokehold.  Harutsedo was too spent to struggle, and he passed out after only a few seconds.  I released him and slammed the helicopter door shut.

Gayer was on the radio talking to someone, but Wilmore lost no time in berating me.

"What the hell was that, Tom?"

"I got him to talk," I answered shortly.  "And now we know that Dionysios is waiting for us in Geneva."

If Wilmore had anything else to say, he didn't get the opportunity to, because at that moment, Gayer clicked off the radio.

"I got in touch with Oscar," she announced.  "It looks like Mrs. Peach has convinced King Mugsy to donate his plane to get us out of the country.  We can meet them at the airfield, along with Thork and Eddy."

Wilmore looked relieved, and then worried.  "Harutsedo told me that he had people following Mrs. Peach to see if she would lead them to you.  What if they're following her?"

Gayer shook her head.  "Peach is too smart not to spot any tails.  And besides, she's being smuggled out of the studio in Mugsy's own limo.  Nobody will be expecting that she's in there."

Sufficiently appeased, Wilmore made the appropriate course correction, and the three of us soared across Dallas, headed straight for Mugthulhu's airfield.


We were the last ones to arrive at the airfield, where a moderately-sized business jet was waiting.  Eddy and Thork were standing next to the FBI van, and Oscar, Raist, and Parsifal were leaning against the Porsche I had stolen from Ethan Sokarul.  I didn't think it was a good idea to be publicly using vehicles that had almost certainly already been reported as stolen, but I couldn't do anything about it now.

Parked at a slight distance from the other two vehicles was an expensive limousine.  I could see Mrs. Peach standing right by it, along with Thor Mugthulhu and Jon Blanko.  The latter marched straight up to me as soon as we climbed out of the helicopter.

"What the hell is going on, Bishop?!" he barked.

"I'm innocent," I said lamely.  It was all I could think of.

"Maybe you are," Blanko said, as I turned away, "But you still have an explanation for what's been happening.  You're not telling us all you know."

"And for good reason."

Saying that was a mistake.  Blanko's eyes flashed angrily, and he promptly drew a revolver out of his jacket and aimed it at me.  I instinctively reached for my holster to draw my own weapon, but it was too late.  He already had me in his sights.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a number of my companions immediately draw down on Blanko.  I raised a hand to stop them from doing anything drastic.  Blanko was holding a Colt Python, which chambered the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge.  It would take only one pull of the trigger to kill me.  And in any case, I understood Blanko's anger.

Oscar attempted to intervene.  "I'm sorry, Mr. Blanko, but it's a very long story, and we need to leave now.  There's no time."

"Then you can explain it to us on the plane.  We'll have plenty of time once we're airborne."

That took Oscar by surprise.  "Wait.  You want to come with -"

"Yes, of course we want to come with you!" snapped Blanko.  "Do you really think that we're just going to hand over our business jet to a group of national fugitives and wave while they fly off into the sunset?  If you're taking our plane, we're going as well."

Nobody seemed to know how to reply to that.

I considered making a rush at Blanko.  Maybe I could subdue him without getting shot, and then we could fly off, leaving him and Mugthulhu behind.  Was that any way to pay them back for the help they had given us so far?

Gayer finally spoke up.  "There's no time to argue.  We'll bring you along, but we need to go, now."

"Natasha, we can't tell them -" began Oscar.

"And why not?" Gayer demanded, her tone suddenly aggressive.  "Because it's classified?  Because they can't handle the truth?  I'm sorry, Oscar, but isn't the whole idea behind what we're doing to finally reveal to the public the truth about the world?  Well, who better to start with than Blanko and Mugsy?  They've deserved to hear the truth for the past five years, ever since Karl Movarch used them as pawns during the Clockwork ordeal."

There was no response to this.  The two Finns, along with the rest of us, simply stared at Gayer, who paused for a moment, and then spoke again.

"The Earth is flat."


Jeff Mykael, crouched behind the closest hill to the airfield, continued to peer through his binoculars at the suspects.  He couldn't believe that the simple, throwaway lead of tailing the Finnish rock star had panned out so well.  Not only had he located Mrs. Peach, but several other persons of interest as well.  The recently-kidnapped Michael Wilmore was there.  So was Natasha Gayer.  Hell, even the man who had beaten him up just a few hours ago, former RAF pilot David Thork, was there.

And most importantly of all, the prime suspect was also present.  Professor Thomas T. Bishop.

Mykael would have loved nothing better than to arrest every one of them, single-handedly cracking a case that had so far brought him nothing but embarrassing failures.  But he knew that wasn't going to happen.  He had been overpowered and nearly killed twice before so far in this case, and that was while facing less numerous and skilled opponents.  He wasn't about to try his luck a third time.

No, the smart thing to do would be to contact Marcus and immediately get reinforcements down there.  And quickly, too.  From what Mykael could see, it looked like the fugitives were getting ready to board the plane.

Turning from the sight, Mykael was about to make his way back to his car for his radio, but what he saw froze him to the spot with shock.

A tall, broad man stood before him, his harsh face framed by long dark hair.  He had to have crept up behind Mykael without making a sound.  This thought terrified the young FBI agent.

Fighting through his amazement, Mykael drew his service revolver and pointed it at the man.  In the next second, the stranger seized his gun hand with an iron grip, almost crushing it.  With a cry of pain, Mykael dropped his gun.

Then a heavy fist slammed into Mykael's torso.  He would have screamed in agony, but the blow had knocked all the air needed to scream out of him.  He had no energy to resist as the stranger wrapped his arm around his throat and twisted violently, breaking his neck and killing him instantly.

The FBI agent's body slumped to the ground, while the killer casually stepped over it to take a look for himself at the fugitives from justice.  Noting that they were indeed entering the plane and getting ready to leave, he decided to get closer.

At 6'3 and 240 pounds, the killer was a large man, and yet he was highly skilled in avoiding detection.  He could move quickly, silently, and invisibly when he needed to.  In less than a minute, he was directly behind the plane, and still certain that nobody was aware of his presence.

A trapdoor leading to a small cargo hold for the plane was in front of him, locked with only a simple deadbolt.  As the engines of the airplane began to rumble to life, the killer jimmied the lock open with a knife, and then quickly clambered inside the cargo hold and slammed the door shut behind him.  A few seconds later, the plane began to taxi down the runway.

In a few minutes, the plane was in the air.  It hadn't been an easy feat to stow away on a business jet.  But then again, nobody called Mr. Truth for the easy jobs.  He was considered the world's greatest assassin for a reason.