CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED-TWO
Monday evening — 5:58 p.m.
“So they…” Nelson said.
Blane turned off the car and looked at Nelson.
“Well, Leslie found these websites that postulate where people, who claim to be experts, believe the hoard might be located,” Nelson said. “She made some connections with a couple of old guys who have been studying this stuff all their lives.”
“Are they Templars?” Blane asked.
“No,” Nelson said. “They told her that they were descendants. Before you ask, they are not.”
“Anyway, I thought maybe tonight we could go over what she found,” Nelson said. “She said that if I’m the ‘chosen one’ then I should know intuitively which site is right. I tried it at the lab and…”
“Happy to help, if I can,” Blane said and got out of the vehicle.
Nelson met him at the back of the car.
“Are you sure about this?” Nelson asked.
“I’m happy to ‘introduce’ you to people you already know,” Blane said with a grin.
“This is so… public,” Nelson said.
They watched people stream in and out of Annie’s Restaurant.
“I’m not worried about being seen,” Blane said. “You?”
Nelson looked at him for a long moment. Blane pointed at him.
“You forgot,” Blane said.
Laughing, Nelson nodded. Nelson had loved Blane in secret for a long, long time. He still felt like they had to creep around. Blane held out his arm.
“Come on,” Blane said. He gestured to a two-seat luxury car. “They are already here.”
“Nice car,” Nelson nodded.
“They get all of their cars from a song at some drug dealer auction,” Blane said. “They can tell you all about it.”
Nelson nodded. They walked arm-in-arm into Annie’s. Despite the number of people milling around outside, there was surprisingly few people waiting. Blane told the person at the front that they were meeting “John and Alex.” She nodded, grabbed a few menus, and started toward the back of the restaurant.
“Isn’t this where Loki harassed Tres?” Nelson asked.
Blane looked back at Nelson and nodded. Nelson grinned. Blane discretely pointed to a char mark the size of a quarter on the wall.
“Abi,” Blane said with a nod.
Nelson laughed. They followed the woman to a table. They approached a table where the man’s arm was around the other person’s shoulder. His face was hidden and he leaned toward to other person. Their faces were so close together that they could only see the man’s curly dark hair and the other person’s short brown hair.
Nelson put his hand on Blane’s arm to slow him down.
“They’re always like that,” Blane said. “If you wait, you’ll be here for a long time.”
He walked to the end of the table and said, “Hey.”
The man turned to look at Blane and the woman laughed. While the woman who’d led them there set down menus for Blane and Nelson, the man stood up.
“John Drayson!” Nelson said. “Oh my God! You’re John?”
Dr. John Drayson laughed. He held out his arms and hugged Nelson.
“I worked with this guy in the ER,” Nelson said to Blane who’d already sat down across from the woman.
Nelson took one look at the woman and his hand went to his heart.
“That’s impossible,” Nelson said under his breath.
The woman laughed and waved at Nelson.
“Please,” John said, gesturing Nelson toward where Blane was sitting.
Nelson slid into the bench next to Blane. He was too taken back to speak.
“This is my wife, Alex,” John said. “Alex Hargreaves meet Dr. Nelson Weeks. We used to work together at Denver Health. He works with Ava now at the Denver Crime Lab.”
“From the looks of things, you know, my twin, Max?” Alex asked, her face bright with laughter.
“Did you transition?” Nelson asked, leaning forward over the table.
“They are single zygotic male-female twins,” John said. “You know, Wyatt, right?”
“Klaussen? Twin expert?” Nelson asked.
“He’s Max’s partner,” John said.
“I was just thinking that I’ve got to tell Klaussen about this,” Nelson said with a laugh.
“He knows,” Alex said. “Trust me, he knows all about us.”
Nelson nodded. The waitress came to take their drink orders. When Nelson didn’t respond so Blane ordered for him.
“You okay?” Blane asked.
“Just surprised,” Nelson said. “A little embarrassed.”
“You should know that we are great at keeping state secrets and suck at keeping our friends secrets,” John said. “So before we do anything else, I must ask — does Heather know about the two of you?”
“Yes,” Blane said with a nod. “She’s the one who made everything happen.”
Nelson nodded in agreement.
“We are forming a larger family,” Nelson said. “Do you know Tres Sierra?”
“I do,” Alex said. “John knows him, too, but he doesn’t know that he knows him.”
John looked at her.
“From church,” Alex said. “Enrique’s brother?”
John’s face soured. After a moment, John said, “The CFO at Jake’s place.”
“He’s moving in with us,” Nelson said. “Tanesha and Jeraine, too. Jake says you guys have something similar.”
“We all live together,” John said. “The kids are raised together. My family is here from Ireland and Alex’s siblings live near us.”
Nelson pointed to John.
“Colin’s house is next to yours,” Nelson said. Nelson slapped his head. “Blane and I have dropped off Katy and Paddie a few times.”
“That’s us,” Alex said. “It’s pretty weird, when you think about it, but it works well.”
The waitress came back with drinks. Familiar with the menu, everyone ordered. The waitress went to put in their order.
“You wanted to ask me something,” Alex said to Nelson.
“I… well, it sounds so strange,” Nelson started.
Nelson anxiously looked around the room. Blane took over.
“Have you heard of the lost hoard of the Templars?” Blane asked.
“Who hasn’t?” Alex asked with a laugh. John nodded.
“Nelson is the only male heir of Saint Bernard,” Blane continued.
“Of the Templars?” Alex asked. Her eyebrows shot up and her mouth widened in a grin. “Really?”
“Family legacy,” Blane said. He looked at Nelson but Nelson was still too anxious so Blane continued. “Nelson can tell you all about it, he’s just upset and anxious.”
“Why?” John asked. “What’s going on with you, Nelson?”
“I…” Nelson shrugged. “I’ve known about the treasure all of my life. I was never going to deal with it. Why bother? My father always said, but after Poland…”
“The mine,” John said.
Nelson nodded and continued, “It seems that there were other objects in that mine. Dark objects. Nazi black magic. Or whatever.”
“Did you know about this?” John asked.
Alex shook her head.
“I have a message that Seth wants to talk to me,” Alex said. “But I’ve been working.”
“Seth and I often have things to talk about,” Alex said with a smile.
John nodded. She looked at Blane and Nelson.
“Seth is a part of a group that finds bodies and brings them home to their loved ones,” Alex said. “My team and I help them when we can. John and I have gone on trips to help find remains.”
John and Alex nodded.
“Please,” John said, “We interrupted.”
Blane glanced at Nelson and Nelson gestured for Blane to continue.
“Seth and the rest now think that the Nazis found out about the salt mine,” Blane continued. “When they came upon object that they could not control, they stuck them in the mine. One of those is dangerous to the world.”
“Dangerous to the world?” Alex asked.
“Heather told me that it can absorb the fuel of the sun,” Blane said. “Put out the light.”
“Whoa,” Alex and John said in near unison.
“I have always known that there’s an object in the hoard called the ‘Adam’s Apple,’” Nelson said. “It’s supposed to be a very large red ruby or something like it. It seems that it is the counter object to this sun killing thing. The two are neutralized if they are together. But the Templars stole the ruby and somehow the light extinguisher ended up with the Nazis.”
Nelson stopped talking. He waited a few minutes until Alex and John looked up at him again.
“I need to take a quest to this hoard,” Nelson said. “I am allowed one human warrior. Female. To protect me.”
Nelson’s mouth was instantly dry. He licked his lips and took a drink of his ice water.
“Ava said that you were the best person,” Nelson said nodding to Alex. “I… well, I thought I’d put the entire crazy thing out in front of you and see what you thought.”
“Who else is going?” Alex asked.
“I can’t tell you,” Nelson said. “I’m sorry. You have to agree to go first.”
“I see,” Alex said. “Can I bring someone myself?”
Nelson shot Alex an intense look.
“The person I’m thinking about would know about this kind of thing,” Alex said with a soft nod. “Plus, I made an agreement that I would never go into a situation by myself.”
Her eyes flicked to her husband’s. She added, “Again.”
“We recently had a situation where Alex was critically injured on a mission where she wend alone,” John said.
The two looked at each other. Alex laughed.
“I need to bring someone as back up,” Alex said. “My team’s great. You know Leena and Margaret?”
“I’d take them anywhere,” Alex said. “I was just thinking of someone who might know about this whole thing.”
“I don’t actually know,” Nelson said, shaking his head. “I can ask.”
Their meals arrived. They settled into eating for a moment.
“You know,” Blane pointed at Alex, “she’s a cartographer.”
“I am,” Alex said with a nod.
“She draws maps for the government,” John said. “They save lives. She’s a true master.”
Alex waved away his compliment. John looked at Alex.
“You have any Templar maps?” John asked Alex. He looked back at Nelson and Blane. “We have a lot of old maps.”
“I don’t think so. Maybe,” Alex said. She pointed at him with a fork before shaking her head. “That’s a good question.”
Alex looked at Blane.
“I received a stack of historic maps from my bio dad,” Alex said. “Max and I have a different biological dad than Colin, Sam, and Erin. He’s Parisian French.”
“That’s why Max speaks French?” Nelson asked.
“We learned as kids,” Alex said. “French, Italian, Spanish, English. Max learned Arabic in college. I learned a few more in the military.”
“Why so many?” Nelson asked.
“They wanted to be Green Berets,” John said with a laugh.
“We did,” Alex said, with a grin. She looked at John. “What do you think?”
“He’s French. You’re French,” John said. “It’s a secret French order.”
“Seems like a no brainer,” John said with a grin.
“It would take me away again,” Alex said.
“It would help a friend,” John said.
Alex nodded. She looked off into space. Waving her hand, she said, “Show me the maps.”
Nelson took a stack of folded pages from the back pocket of his jeans. He set it on the table. Alex unfolded the pages. Picking up a French fry from John’s plate, Alex ate and laid out the maps.
“This is…” Nelson said.
“I know where this is,” Alex said, cutting him off.
She looked at one page and shook her head. She looked at the next page and scowled. When she got to the last page, she looked up at Nelson.
“Where did you get these?” Alex asked.
“My colleague, Leslie…” Nelson said.
“I know Leslie. She’s brilliant,” Alex said. She pushed her plate aside and put the pages together. “I have this map. It’s old.”
“1100s?” Nelson asked.
“I have a copy of Mahmud al-Kashgari’s Map from 1072,” Alex said. “Copy of Al-Idrisi’s Tabula Rogeriana from 1154. Cheap reproductions. I have heard that the Templars drew their own maps, but I’ve never seen one. I don’t think that anyone has seen a Templar map.”
Alex raised her eyebrows to Nelson in question.
“I have,” Nelson said.
“I’ll offer you a trade,” Alex said. “You let me see your Templar maps and I’ll talk to the rest of your team.”
“I would happily give you all of those stupid maps,” Nelson said. “My father’s now the head of the order. I’d have to check with him, but if you’re helping me find this ridiculous treasure? I’m sure that he will be thrilled. You could name your price.”
“Even better,” Alex said.
She gave him a wide smile. She held out her hand.
“Deal?” Alex asked.
Nelson flushed. He shook her hand.
“Deal,” Nelson said. “But…”
The restaurant went dark. Nelson slid out of the booth. Before his feet had reached the floor, Alex had climbed over the table, pulled her weapon from her sacrum holster, and stood in front of Nelson. She moved side to side, checking the darkened room.
Wearing her full armor and carrying her sword, Mari appeared next to Alex. Mari sneered at Alex.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Alex said with a grin at Mari. “I’m protecting him.”
Alex gestured to Nelson.
“I protect him,” Mari said.
“Knock it off,” Nelson said first to Mari and then he nodded at Alex. “I need a human warrior.”
“And me,” Mari said. “You need me.”
“Alex meet my fairy watch dog,” Nelson said.
“Princess Marigold,” Mari said. “Nice to meet you, Alex Hargreaves. You know my sister, the Blue Fairy?”
“We’ve met,” Alex said with distaste.
“I’m not as annoying,” Mari said.
“Good to know,” Alex said. “Any idea why the lights went out?”
“We’re in another dimension,” Mari said.
“Where are the Goddesses?” Nelson asked.
“I put us in a time bubble,” Mari said. “I thought we might need a chat first.”
Alex gave Mari a thoughtful look and tucked her handgun back into her holder. She looked at Nelson.
“Goddesses?” Alex asked.
“Hecate, Nyx, Aphrodite,” Nelson said. “That’s not to mention Abi and Hecate.”
Alex blinked. The edges of the room seemed to soften. Instinctively, Alex pulled her weapon again. A female figure appeared.
“Nyx,” Alex said under her breath.
“How do you know me, child?” the Titan asked.
“My friend Bestat has a statue of you at her home in Alexandria,” Alex said. “She told me that it stood in one of your temples.”
Nyx looked at Alex for a long time.
“Bestat,” Nyx said. “How do you know her?”
“She is the partner of my oldest friend,” Alex said. “I was thinking of consulting her about this… uh… mission. Possibly bring her with us, if that’s all right with you.”
Nyx turned to Nelson.
“This is your human warrior?” Nyx asked.
“She is,” Nelson said.
“You may bring her,” Nyx said. “And her friend.”
Nyx turned to Mari.
“Abi tasked me with guarding Nelson,” Mari said.
“I know you, Princess Marigold,” Nyx said. “You are welcome. We may need your light in the end.”
The stubborn jewel popped off Mari’s sword. Nelson cursed. But Nyx simply held out her hand.
“Do you know what this is?” Nyx asked.
“A stupid jewel that won’t stay in place no matter what I try?” Nelson asked.
Nyx looked at Nelson and then grinned.
“It will never adhere to your sword,” Nyx said as her hands closed around the gem. “It is a compass.”
“To?” Mari asked.
“Exactly where we need to go,” Nyx said with a grin.
The lights came back on and they were standing in the restaurant again. Mari disappeared before the humans could notice her.
“Nelson?” Blane asked at the same time John said, “What’s going on?”
“Bathroom break,” Alex said with a grin.
She waved John out of the booth so that she could sit down. They settled into eating. After a few minutes, their conversation turned to their children. They were laughing in no time.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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