Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Five Hundred and Forty-two : Their prize

CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO

Monday early morning — 4:00 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

Blane stepped out of the hotel. From where he stood, he could see men wearing archaic armor lined up along the force field he had created.

They were intimidating in some deep ancestral way. Their costumes, and even their beards, were innately familiar. They were the “good guys” in every movie and book. They are the Templars. As a Catholic, he had heard his fair share of stories about their power and brilliance. Even the red cross on the men’s chests stirred something inexpressible inside Blane.

They believed that they were doing the Lord’s work.

He wasn’t a lapsed enough Catholic to not have that mean something to him.

Abi always said that his best defense was his averageness. No one was going to suspect that he was something to be reckoned with.

Remembering her words, he yawned as if he were bored.

He pulled on the leather gloves, stuck in his hands in his pockets, and walked forward.

He stood there for what seemed like forever.

An elderly man in front of him shared the same look as Pierre Semaines, Nelson’s father. He was about the same height and build. His face bore the deep wrinkles, almost scars, of a life of self-righteousness. And still, the man was familiar enough to make Blane smile.

Another man stepped up to the one with the sword. This man, clearly the leader, looked so much like Nelson that he could be Nelson’s twin. Although Nelson was taller and bigger that this man, they had nearly identical faces and similar intelligent eyes. This man moved close to the other in a way that indicated, at least to Blane, that they were lovers.

The man who looked like Pierre Semaines stuck a sword through the force field.

Blane grabbed the blade of the sword and yanked. The sword easily came out of the elderly man’s hand. The force field healed.

Blane looked at the sword for a moment. He set the point of the blade on the ground and twirled it by the handle.

The Templars were screaming and pounding on the force field.

Behind Blane, he heard a kind of scrambling. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, Tres Sierra ran to his side. Tres swung a baseball bat into his other hand in threat to the Templars. Blane gave Tres a questioning look.

“I couldn’t let you face them alone,” Tres said. “Came out my window.”

Blane grinned at Tres before turning back to the Templars.

“We can take them,” Tres said.

Blane shot him a look.

“We only want the traitor,” the man who looked like Pierre Semaines. “Bring him to us and we will leave!”

“Who are they talking about?” Tres asked.

“Nelson,” Blane said, in a low tone. “He is their prize.”

“Fuck you!” Tres said and pointed the end of the bat at the men. “You cannot have him.”

Raising his eyebrows, Blane turned to look at Tres.

“Well, they can’t,” Tres said.

Blane grinned. Hearing the door to the hotel open, Blane turned to see the people, his family, moving out of the hotel.

The Templars pounded on the shield.

His family behind him waited for him to do something.

“What are you going to do?” Tres asked.

Blane looked at him again.

“No, pressure man,” Tres said, with a laugh.

Blane took a step forward. Holding the sword by the handle, he pointed the sword at the man he’d taken the sword.

“This is a day of reckoning,” Blane said. “Behind me stand humans able and willing to fight you hand to hand.”

Blane pointed to the people behind him.

The head of the Templars pointed behind Blane at Hedone and Ares.

“They cannot be involved,” the head of the Templars said.

“No, but I can,” Perses appeared right behind the heads of the Templars.

Perses swung his sword indicating that it would be nothing to take their heads. The elderly men stepped away from the Titan and ran into the protective shield.

Blane took a step forward.

“On your command.” Perses winked at Blane from the other side of the protective shield.

“There is also an army, a human army, less than a mile from here,” Blane said. “They come to protect their people. They come to stand up to the invaders — you.”

“You can’t have him!” Tres said.

Blane looked at Tres.

“Sorry, man,” Tres said. “It just came out of me.”

Blane gave him a nod before turning back. He pointed the sword at the Templars again.

“You have a choice,” Blane said. “Attack us and die. For sure as I’m standing here, you will die here.”

“He lies!” the head of the Templars said.

The Templars roared with life.

“The old ways have faded like leaves on a very old tree,” Blane said. “You can set down your weapons and join us. Bring your God given mission into the present and future. Or cling to archaic ideas of your own superiority and watch it fall away before your eyes.”

“We only want the boy,” the head of the Templars said.

“At the cost of everyone here,” Blane said. “That is indefensible. You will not get him.”

Rage coursed through Blane and he felt a sense of power rise inside him.

“You killed his mother,” Blane said. He pointed the sword at the head of the Templars. “You tried to kill his father and him! They barely survived!”

Blane gasped a few breathes to keep his rage in check.

“You’ve lost the right to him,” Blane said. He stuck the sword into the ground. “We lay claim to him.”

“Yay!” Tres said. “He’s ours!”

Tres mimicked Blane’s actions with the baseball bat. The baseball bat fell over. Tres picked it up and leaned it against the sword. Blane looked down to keep from laughing.

“You have a choice — come at us and you will die,” Blane said. “Set down your weapons, come inside. We will greet you like the family that you are. We’ll give you a little time to make this decision. Don’t wait too long or the Navajo warriors will be upon you soon enough.”

Blane turned around and started walking back to the hotel. Tres jogged to catch up. They went through the door and the rest of the group shuffled inside.

Delphie hugged Blane and kissed his cheek.

“What happens now?” Tres asked.

“Now, we wait,” Abi said.

“And hope that they make the right choice,” Hedone said.

“You sure I can’t just kill them and be done with it?” Perses asked. “Easier.”

Dad!” Candy said with a shake of her head. “No!”

Everyone laughed.

~~~~~~~~

Monday early morning — 4:00 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

There was a knock at the door of Tink and Charlie’s room. Charlie was holding Wyn so Tink got up to answer it.

She opened the door a crack.

A woman, about Tink’s size, was standing outside the room. The woman wore a blue, green, and aqua cape made out of what looked like parrot feathers. The cape covered a gown that rivaled any Tink had ever seen.

“Hello?” Tink asked.

“My father asked me to come to help protect you,” the woman said.

“Who are you?” Tink asked.

The woman looked at Tink and blinked.

“You smell of Olympia,” the woman said.

“So?” Tink asked.

She started to close the door, and the woman stopped her.

“I apologize,” the woman said. “I was taken off guard by …”

“What?” Tink asked.

“We could be twins,” the woman said.

“I’m human,” Tink said. “You’re something, I’m not sure. You feel like Perses, but you don’t look like Mike or Jill or …”

The door wrenched open, and Edie stepped out. Still wearing her armor, she stepped through the door to assess the threat. Edie took one look at the woman and dropped to a knee. She grabbed Tink’s hand, but Tink shook her off.

The woman grinned at Tink.

“Hecate,” Edie said. “To what do we owe this honor.”

“My father asked me to help watch over the children,” Hecate said. “He has had many dealing with these Templars. They are not the most straight forward of folk. The fairies have an accord to not get involved as does Olympia. There is no such agreement with Titans. He thought the children could use some serious fire power. Plus …”

Hecate shrugged.

“I heard Hedone was here,” Hecate said.

“She’s my mom,” Tink said.

Hecate squinted at the girl.

“Not by birth,” Hecate said.

“Well, duh,” Tink said.

“She is my best friend,” Hecate said. “Father said my siblings are here as well. I have only met them once when they were infants.”

“Your father is …” Tink said, in an irritated voice.

“Lord Perses,” Edie said.

“You’re Jill’s sister?” Tink asked. “Candy? Mike?”

“Different mothers,” Hecate nodded. “Oh, do get up, Edith. We need to talk about the fairy Queendoms.”

“As you wish,” Edie said and stood.

“She can’t go in there wearing that!” Tink said.

Hecate grinned at the girl.

“If you’re a friend of my mom’s then I need to help you the best I can,” Tink said. “Can you change what you wear?”

“It’s not a Titan gift,” Hecate said. “We cannot make something out of nothing.”

“Edie?” Tink asked.

“What would you like her to wear?” Edie asked.

“Just give her something of mine,” Tink said. “You know, jeans, shirt, bra … maybe add that blue and green to her hair?”

Hecate transformed into an outfit similar to Tink’s. There was a swipe of blue and green running through one side of the Titans dark curly hair. Tink gawked at Hecate. She looked enough like Tink to be her mother. Hecate grinned at the girl.

“We need to get out of the hallway,” Edie said.

Tink shifted back.

Had Heather known that Tink looked like her friend? Is that why they’d adopted her? What would Mack say? Was this woman her real mother?

It had never occurred to her that the woman who’d raised her had not given birth to her. She tried to remember if her mother had been pregnant with Chet. She shook her head to bring her back to the present.

Hecate moved into the room. She checked the window and the door before sitting down in a chair Edie had cleared of sleeping babies. Hecate took the babies into her lap.

Tink couldn’t take her eyes of this Hecate. She was about to say something when Mack came up to her. She picked up the boy. Finding a place near where Noelle was lying on the bed, she sat down with Mack.

They waited.

~~~~~~~~

Monday early morning — 4:17 a.m.

Denver, Colorado

“This was just a bit ago,” Pierre said in French. He pointed to the time in the corner of the video. “Can we see what’s going on now?”

Pierre and Nelson looked at Mari. She gave them an impassive look.

“If you can do this then you can do …?” Pierre reasoned.

“It’s not a question of whether I can do it,” Mari replied in French.

“Then what is it?” Nelson asked.

“I have a feeling that …” Mari looked from Pierre to Nelson. “This will not end well.”

“You mean if we watch, we may see the death of these Templars?” Nelson asked.

“The death of your family,” Mari said in a soft, kind voice. She nodded. “That feels like it will come to pass.”

“Because you have seen it?” Nelson asked.

“That is not a fairy skill,” Mari said.

“Because you’ve walked time?” Nelson asked.

“That is also not a fairy skill,” Mari said, irritably.

“Then why?” Nelson asked.

“If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword,” Pierre said.

Mari nodded.

“I believe the same thing,” Pierre said.

Mari watched him for a moment.

“That’s awfully hard for …” Mari said.

“They killed my wife,” Pierre said. “Nearly killed me and my son. They’ve been chasing us all of our lives, I …”

Mari jumped up and walked to the screen.

“You will let me know when you’ve had enough,” Mari said. “You may have prepared for this Pierre, but Nelson …”

“I was an ER doctor,” Nelson said. “I have seen every form of violence one human can do upon another.”

Mari gave a slight shrug. She snapped her fingers and the screen changed.

“When you’ve had enough, just say so,” Mari said.

The door to the hotel was closing. Everyone had gone inside. The Templars stood at the barrier. Pierre and Nelson stared at television. Slowly, they backed up until they were sitting on the couch. Mari sat down between them.

The scene began to unfold.

~~~~~~~~

“To me!” the head of the Templars yelled. “Come to me!”

The men surrounding the hotel ran as fast as their heavy antiquated armor would allow. The younger men jogged easily to the head of the Templars while it took the older members a few minutes.

“What say you?” the head of the Templars asked.

“Fight to the death!” Pierre’s father yelled.

His words were met with a roar of approval, especially from the younger members of their party.

“We must …” the head of the Templars started. At the sound of a police siren, he yelled, “Retreat! Retreat!”

The fifty members of the Templars ran away from the hotel. They passed two or three buildings before turning into the vacant garage where they had gotten dressed.

“We will fight another day!” the head of the Templars said as he opened the door.

The door swung open and the first of the Templars ran inside. They were just inside when Gando Peaches arrived with his team of ex-military on horseback. One of his men flagged down the Bureau of Land Management police cruiser and the two cars from the Navajo Nation Police. The police were just getting out of their vehicles when four FBI vehicles came squealing into the parking lot around the garage.

The police closed off the road. Gando and his team guarded the door until they were replaced with police officers. Gando and his team dismounted from their horses and let the animals away from danger. Once the horses were secured, they returned to join the police on their line.

“You inside!” the FBI yelled on a bullhorn. “You are surrounded! Come out with your hands up!”

There was no response from inside. The police settled in for what was likely to be a long morning.

~~~~~~~~

“What’s going on in there?” Pierre asked.

Mari looked at him. Her large eyes opened and closed in some imitation of a blink.

“Do you know?” Pierre asked. “Can you show me?”

“You are sure?” Mari asked.

Pierre nodded. She looked at Nelson and he nodded.

The scene on the screen changed. They were inside a darkened room. There was an odd sound, almost a ticking but …

“They’re dead,” Nelson said.

Pierre looked at him.

“That’s the sound blood makes when it hits concrete,” Nelson said.

The men looked at Mari.

“How?” Nelson asked.

“I do not know,” Mari said. “That sounds like a lie but it is not.”

“Show me,” Pierre commanded. “I want to see this room.”

Sighing, Mari snapped her fingers. The lights turned on inside the garage.

The men visibly recoiled from the sight.

~~~~~~~~

Monday early morning — 4:47 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

While Blane encouraged them to head back to bed, these friends and family refused to leave. They were there for the duration. Jeraine took over the hotel’s breakfast kitchen. Using basic ingredients, they were soon eating a variety of yummy things. Soon, they were quietly talking, laughing. Alex Hargreaves took over the coffee making. Soon, the hotel ground coffee transformed into something wonderful. They drank cup after cup of coffee and ate in this quiet communion.

Blane was getting ready to check on the Templars when a cell phone rang. He looked over to see Alex Hargreaves answer her phone. The room fell silent.

“Ganny?” Alex said.

She listened for a long moment. Her only expression of emotion was the blinking of her eyes.

“Wow,” Alex said. She looked at Blane. “I’ll tell him. Tell them we’re all hanging out in the lobby.”

Gando Peaches must have said something funny because she laughed.

“Of course,” Alex said. “Come on over. There’s plenty.”

She realized everyone was watching her when she hung up her phone. She flushed at the attention and then gestured to Blane.

“We’re all in this,” Sandy said. “You need to tell us what you know.”

Alex gave Sandy a long look. Her husband put his hand on her leg. She looked at him, and he gave her a soft, loving smile. She looked back at Sandy.

“Okay,” Alex said. “You’re right. It’s just … Uh …”

Her eyes flicked around the room, touching everyone in attendance.

“Well …” Alex said. “It’s …how do you say it now? Not safe for work?”

“Sensitive material,” John, her husband, said.

“What is it?” Blane asked.

“Okay, if you’re sensitive, you should leave now,” Alex said.

When no one moved, Alex squinted and tipped her head in disbelief.

“We killed the St. Jude murderer,” Tanesha said.

“We’ve seen some grisly shit,” Jacob said.

“Okay,” Alex said with a nod. “Ganny and his men were about a mile from here when they heard police sirens. They picked up their pace. They were near enough to see the Templars jogging down t he street toward an old abandoned garage.”

“The one at the end of the street?” Blane asked.

“I guess so,” Alex said with a shrug. “Ganny said that they figured they had to change out of their gear. So he and his guys chased them to the garage. No sooner than they’d surrounded the building and the Navajo Nation police, the BLM police, and the FBI showed up.”

“All three are responsible for crime on the reservation,” Blane said with a nod.

“He said they waited for … well, all this time,” Alex said. “Half hour or so. The FBI used their bullhorn to try to raise them but …”

“What happened?” Blane asked.

“They forced the door and went into the garage,” Alex said with a shake of her head. “Everyone inside was dead. Ganny said ‘cut down’ as if they were attacked with swords, possibly the swords they were carrying.”

She looked around the room from horrified face to horrified face.

“Here’s the thing — they didn’t see anyone go in and no one came out,” Alex said. She looked at Perses, and he shook his head. “They have no idea who or what could have done this thing or if they attacked each other.”

Alex nodded.

“It happened while the police and Ganny were standing outside,” Alex said.

A kind of shocked hush came over the crowd. No one knew what to say. After a moment, Alex sat down.

“Now what?” Blane asked Hedone in a low tone.

She shook her head. She had no idea.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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