CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-THREE
“Now out with it,” Alex said.
Patrick Hargreaves gave her a mildly irritated look. Ben and Seth nodded in agreement. But, to her surprise, Bernie was chuckling to himself.
“What?” Alex asked.
“You are very much like your grandmother,” Bernie said with a laugh. “That is something she would have said.”
Alex groaned. He raised his hand.
“You are right,” Bernie said. “Let’s clear the air. Lives are on the line.”
Everyone fell silent as their attention turned to the elderly man.
“You have heard about the Nazi’s nuclear program?” Bernie asked.
Everyone began speaking at once. Patrick started swearing at Bernie. The Fey Team recoiled in their seats. Ben was shaking his head and talking at the same time. Alex crossed her arms in irritation. Raz got up to stand at her side. Seth was watching Pierre who was sitting, drinking coffee, just out of the fray.
“Settle down,” Vince said.
“I’m not going anywhere near some fifty-year-old nuclear …” Matthew said.
“That is some bullshit,” Royce said.
“Be that as it may,” Alex said. “We need to hear him out.”
Everyone fell silent again. They turned their attention to Bernie.
“Please continue,” Alex said.
“I understand why you are upset,” Bernie said. “It’s understandable.”
“Bernie,” Seth said. He put his hand on Bernie’s leg. “What did you mean about the Nazi’s nuclear program?”
“Oh, right,” Bernie said. He looked up at the younger people. “I get distracted sometimes.”
“The Nazi’s had a nuclear program,” Patrick said. “We were able to retrieve their efforts at making a bomb as well as their nuclear material. Many of those scientists went into the Paperclip program.”
“We know all about those assholes,” Alex said.
The team nodded.
“So we’re not going into some leaking uranium situation,” Royce asked.
“No,” Bernie said. “I apologize. The allies were able to retrieve everything except …”
“Oh my God,” Pierre said from the sidelines.
Every eye turned to Pierre.
“Pierre, I didn’t see you there!” Bernie said.
“You’re here to get the detonator,” Pierre said.
“Thank you,” Bernie said. “Yes. I became interested in this trip and that journal because I thought I might find the detonator.”
The two men looked at each other for a long moment.
“Not to break up the love here,” Alex said. “But what are we talking about?”
Pierre looked at Alex for a moment before nodding.
“As he said, the allies took apart the Nazi nuclear program,” Pierre said. “Many of the scientists involved immigrated to the United States.”
“And this detonator?” Alex asked.
“The Nazi’s were said to have created a specific kind of detonator,” Pierre said. “The mechanism was more efficient and stable. The allies looked for it but were unable to ever retrieve it.”
Pierre looked at Bernie.
“This was your project?” Pierre asked Bernie.
The elderly man nodded.
“The Nazi nuclear program was in this area of Poland,” Bernie said. “The bomb they created was just a bomb. It was the detonator that was valuable.”
“Is valuable,” Patrick said. He sighed and the angry bull of a General façade dropped. “I apologize. I’ve been an ass.”
“Yes, you have,” Ben said with a laugh.
Patrick acknowledged his comment with a nod.
“When I was a Green Beret, this man was the spy in my ointment,” Patrick said gesturing to Bernie.
“That was you?” Alex asked with a laugh.
“I used to tell my children that they needed to be as smart and knowledgeable as you were,” Patrick said. “The amount of information that man knows would blow your mind. In retrospect, it was a real opportunity to work with but not so great when you’re a young beret trying to prove yourself.”
“I came on this trip to see if we could find the detonator as well,” Patrick said. “Ben?”
“I came to keep an eye on you two,” Ben said. “But I want to know what Pierre Semaines knows about this detonator.”
“Me?” Pierre asked.
He seemed genuinely surprised.
“You did fill in the details,” Ben said.
“My family belongs to a secret society,” Pierre said.
“He’s a Templar,” Ben said.
“Weapons Master,” Pierre said. “That’s the role my family played before the order was formed and after the order was officially disbanned. I know how to use and operate nearly every weapon ever created by humankind.”
“Your connection to the detonator?” Seth asked.
“I know how to operate it,” Pierre said.
“So it is real!” Bernie said.
“It’s real,” Pierre said. “And it’s said to have been stolen by a Jewish lab assistant and tucked away in Southern Polish countryside.”
No one said anything for a long moment.
“How many people know this information?” Raz asked.
“At least the five of us,” Pierre said. “My sister. She is the official weapons master for our order.”
“What are you?” Raz asked.
“To my great surprise, I am actually the head of the order now,” Pierre said. “In the place of my son.”
“Wait,” Leena said. “The Templars are a real thing?”
“Yes,” Pierre said.
“So is interest in this detonator,” Patrick said.
“Why?” Sergeant Dusty, Alex’s assistant, asked. “Why would anyone care about a fifty-year-old … whatever it is?”
“Three reasons,” Pierre said. “The first is just to get their hands on the technology.”
“But you said you know how to operate it,” Sergeant Dusty said. “That implies that you’ve studied the design and instructions.”
“Through his secret society that no one knows still exists,” Bernie said. “No one’s seen this detonator for … a very long time. I spent years of my life looking for it. If it’s found now, it would sell to the highest bidder for millions.”
“At least a billion,” Patrick said. He looked at Pierre. “What are your other two reasons?”
“The detonator can operate any bomb,” Pierre said. “You could replicate it and attach it to anything. That’s not to mention if you were North Korea or somewhere else without their own nuclear arsenal.”
Thinking about what he said, they fell silent again.
“And the third?” Patrick asked.
“It’s Nazi shit,” Pierre said. “There are more than a few people in this region alone who would kill for something that was actually made by Nazis.”
“We assumed that we’d have to deal with these folks anyway,” Alex said.
“Right,” Pierre said. “But imagine — this is a part of the Nazi military machine. It could have turned the tide in the war. We could be sitting in Nazi Germany right now if …”
“Someone hadn’t stolen the detonator,” Bernie said.
He nodded. Patrick turned to look at him before nodding himself.
“Do we expect visitors?” Seth asked.
“We have,” Alex said. She waited until everyone turned to look at her. “Does this change anything for anyone?”
“Anyone wish to decline this mission now?” Vince asked.
Every member of the Fey Team shook their heads.
“Good,” Vince said at the same time Alex said, “Thank you.”
Everyone was visibly relieved.
“There’s one more thing,” Alex said. “I need to know — is there anything else you can think of?”
She nodded to Bernie, Patrick, Ben, Pierre, and Seth in turn.
“If this is the kind of thing that is in this tunnel, we could expect to find almost anything,” Bernie said.
“Holy Grail,” Patrick said with a nod.
“100,000 missing pieces of art,” Ben said.
“Anything,” Pierre said. “Without getting all comic book on you, there are objects in this world that have tremendous power in their own right. They were collected by the Nazis.”
“No one knows where they ended up,” Bernie said with a nod.
“We’re prepared for anything,” Alex said. “We just weren’t prepared for old secrets to come and bite us in the ass.”
No one said for a long moment.
“What about the Nazi’s nuclear research?” Pierre asked.
Everyone turned to look at him.
“It was stolen with the detonator,” Pierre said. He gave a small smile. “Surprise?”
“That would go under ‘anything else’!” Alex said.
Pierre had the decency of looking a little embarrassed.
“Anything else?” Vince asked.
He looked at Pierre who shook his head. When he looked at Bernie, the elderly man was asleep. Seth shook his head as did Ben.
“No,” Patrick said.
“We’ll expect some Nazi crap and a whole bunch of nuts,” Vince said. “Ready?”
“Ready,” the team responded.
Shaking his head, Vince dismissed everyone until 0800 hours.
Sunday late night — 11:30 p.m.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Jeraine turned over in bed.
“Are you awake?” a woman’s voice came from the bed next to him.
Jeraine let out a panicked scream. Grabbing the covers, he reeled off the bed. Not yet awake, his mind raced with the repercussions of screwing up with yet another woman. He shook with the fear that he’d somehow fucked up again. He was already into Tanesha divorcing him and losing Jabari when he realized that it was his friend, Hecate, on the bed.
Fully clothed and above the covers, she was laying on her side on the bed. She’d spoken when he’d rolled over to face her. Jeraine pointed at her and collapsed down to sit on the side of the bed. She laughed while he tried to catch his breath.
“Very funny,” Jeraine said. “I was like to have a heart attack!”
She scooted across the bed to sit next to him.
“Sorry,” Hecate said.
Jeraine looked at him.
“Hedone told me that you had some brain issues,” Hecate said. “I hadn’t seen them before now.”
She put a cool hand on his forehead. He’d had a pounding headache since he’d started packing for this trip. It had only gotten worse on the plane. He’d crawled into bed the moment he’d arrived here. Her cool hand took the pulse of his pain away.
“What are you doing?” Jeraine asked.
“I’m cooling your mind down,” Hecate said. “How’d you get this?”
“Drugs,” Jeraine said. “Alcohol.”
Hecate put her other hand on the back of his head.
“Do you only get them when you’re anxious?” Hecate asked.
“Now,” Jeraine said. “I used to get them all the time. I worked hard in brain therapy. I still do it every third day. Jill helped me, too. Mike, one time. He …”
Jeraine shook his head.
“What did my brother do?” Hecate asked.
“He has this macho energy,” Jeraine said. “He found me after I’d passed out on the Castle grass. He put his hand on my head, and I was infused with a kind of male-power. It’s hard to describe.”
“Strength,” Hecate said. “I bet that helped.”
“Helps me stay clear and focused,” Jeraine said. “To this day.”
“Abi never offered to fix this?” Hecate asked.
“Tanesha told her that I don’t deserved it,” Jeraine said. “And I don’t. I really don’t. I caused so much pain that …”
“So you won’t let her fix it?” Hecate asked.
“Miss T …” Jeraine looked at Hecate. Just by looking at her, the truth bubbled to the surface inside of him. “No, you’re right. It’s me. Abi used to offer. I just …”
“I’m afraid that I’ll forget,” Jeraine said. “And slip back into the old ways. It nearly killed me. Destroyed my entire life. I hurt Tanesha so badly that … I was out living the high life and she was selling her eggs to pay for her mother’s medical treatment. That’s not to mention her working four jobs to pay her grandmother’s mortgage while I’m snorting more money that every single night. That’s not accounting for the humiliation I caused her, still cause her. No. I deserve to suffer.”
Jeraine shook his head.
“Well, that should help for now,” Hecate said.
He was surprised to find that he actually felt better. His second surprise was to realize that he was still wearing his clothing from his plane trip.
“James Schmidt is in the other room,” Hecate said. “He asked if I would wake you.”
He got up from the bed. With Hecate’s hand on his arm, he managed to walk upright to the living area of this apartment. Jammy was sitting in a chair reading on his eBook reader.
“What are you reading?” Jeraine asked
“Cozy mystery,” James “Jammy” Schmidt Jr. said. “I got hooked on this series set in Cherringham, England. Good stuff.”
Jeraine nodded. He came around and sat on the couch. Hecate sat next to him.
“I need some water,” Jeraine said.
Hecate held out a glass of water for him.
“Thanks,” Jeraine said. “I think. You know I read something that said that you were evil. And a witch.”
“Me?” Hecate asked.
“Insecure little men believe that powerful women are evil witches,” Jammy said with a nod. “It’s pathetic really. I love my powerful wife.”
His eyes flicked to Hecate.
“She’s not a witch or anything,” Jammy said.
“Seth O’Malley’s daughter?” Hecate asked.
Jammy gave a nod, but Hecate didn’t say anything else. He looked at Hecate, and she shrugged.
“Would you like her to be?” Hecate asked finally.
“If she wants,” Jammy said.
Hecate gave a quick nod.
“She comes from powerful parents,” Hecate said. “It’s likely that she’ll come into her power as she ages.”
Hecate gave Jammy a long look.
“She’s a good match for you,” Hecate said.
“I’ve loved her since we were children,” Jammy said. “I don’t care what she is or will become. I just want to be by her side for the rest of my life.”
His sincerity made both Hecate and Jeraine smile.
“So it is,” Hecate said.
“Why did you wake me?” Jeraine asked, feeling the edge of his headache returning.
“We need to talk about tomorrow,” Jammy said.
“We go see Jeanie and then go to the other casino,” Jeraine repeated what Tanesha had made him memorize.
“That’s what I thought as well,” Jammy said. “The casino lawyers have sued Jeanie for control of the corporation.”
“Can they do that?” Jeraine asked.
“Sure,” Jammy said. “The casino has a lot of good lawyers. Jeanie went out and hired the best firm in Las Vegas. They’ve filed to dismiss these ‘frivolous’ lawsuits based on the will.”
“What does the will say?” Jeraine asked.
“It gives control of the corporation to her,” Jammy said. “It was actually a part of their prenuptial. She was the CEO of his corporation before they married. He said that he married her because of her great looks and good brain for business.”
“How long have they been married?” Jeraine asked.
“Good question,” Jammy said. “Twelve years. So over the ten year mark. The prenup stands. The other lawyers don’t have a case.”
“What do we do?” Jeraine asked. “Aren’t I trapped in place by these white people and their lawyers?”
“If you wish to be,” Jammy said.
“What do you mean?” Jeraine asked.
“We can just move forward,” Jammy said. “Build a show at the other casino. Worst case, we have to move it back to the original casino. But we can likely stall that.”
“I don’t want to work for a year or more to build something that will just go on the shelf!” Jeraine said.
“That’s not going to happen,” Hecate said.
Jeraine turned to look at her. He knew better than to ask how she knew that. He turned back to Jammy.
“What are we doing tomorrow, then?” Jeraine asked.
“Breakfast with Jeanie,” Jammy said. “A very public breakfast, I might add. Her best defense is to continue to act as if what she’s doing is what her husband wanted.”
“Is it not?” Hecate asked.
“There’s no real way to know,” Jammy said. “The company’s lawyers say that he was getting ready to change his will, divorce this wife, but there’s no other evidence of that.”
Hecate snapped her finger.
“What was that?” Jeraine asked at the same moment Jammy said, “What did you do?”
“Documents get lost all the time,” Hecate said. She shrugged. “Plus, it’s my opinion that her husband would want her in control. He just wouldn’t have expected her first action to be cleaning this up for you.”
The men looked at Hecate. Neither one dared asking is she had made that happen. She gave them a veiled smile.
“So tomorrow?” Jeraine asked with a laugh.
“Breakfast with Jeanie,” Jammy said. “Then we head to the other casino. Jeanie’s asked to come along. I don’t see why not. It’s my opinion that our best bet is to keep her in the loop until this court stuff is worked out.”
“It will be a full day,” Jammy said. “Are you up to it?”
“I just need to sleep,” Jeraine said.
“Off you go then,” Jammy said.
Jeraine got up from his seat. He was almost out of the room when he saw Hecate disappear, and Jammy turn his attention back to the novel. He felt oddly safe and protected. Taking the time to change, he finally climbed into bed where he fell into a sound sleep.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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