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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
back on the couch, she rubbed her face with her hands in consternation. Leaning
forward, Beth paged back in the book until she reached the first page,
lingering over the symbols as if their translation might suddenly pop into her
December 15, 2000
“I’ll have to call you back,” Beth uttered as she ended the call, not waiting for Michael’s answer. Instead, her eyes held on Abby, who was standing and staring down at the book like she had seen ghost!
“What is it Abby?” Beth asked quietly, “What did you see?”
Seeming as if she was in a trance, Abby finally turned toward Beth, a look of wonderment crossing her face at that moment.
“I…I…,” she sputtered, “I’m not sure what it means.”
Beth moved toward Abby, grabbing her shoulders to get her attention.
“Abby…what does what mean? What did you see?”
Snapping out of it suddenly, Abby grinned. “The symbols…come here and look.”
Breaking Beth’s grip on her shoulders, Abby made her way back to the couch and slid in front of the of book again.
“These two!” She exclaimed excitedly, as Beth moved beside her on the couch. Looking down at the page, Beth took in the two images.
“They look like all of the other shit in there,” Joe observed from where he now stood across the table. “Just looks like some kid’s art project to me.”
“Ignore him,” Beth said while rolling her eyes. “Tell me what it is that you see Abby.”
“Essentially?” Abby said as she glanced up at Beth, “I think it represents good and evil…as in the ultimate good and evil…biblical proportions.”
“Here we go,” Joe sneered while shaking his head. “Let me know when you guys are ready to do some real work…I’m getting some more coffee.”
“You really just need to ignore him sometimes,” Beth mumbled to Abby while they watched Joe stalk off, “He’s not much on creative thinking.”
Abby grinned at her statement. “No big deal, I’ve been around grumpy men most of my life.”
Beth laughed at that, shaking her head at the statement…and at how true it was for her too.
“Anyway,” Abby continued, pointing down to the first symbol, “This looks an awful lot like a symbol very close to me…you have any paper?”
Nodding, Beth reached down to her bag on the floor and extracted a leather-bound journal. Flipping through the pages, she opened it to a blank page before placing it on the table and handing Abby a pencil.
“Thanks!” Abby exclaimed while starting to draw. Taking her time copying the first image from the book, she then drew another image beside it.
“I guess?” Beth mumbled while studying the images. “I’m not sure I would have jumped to the same conclusion myself however…even if I’d ever seen one of these before.”
“I can see your point,” Abby admitted, “But it’s the second one sitting beside this one in the book that struck a chord with me.”
Flipping the page, Abby carefully drew out the second image, and as before added an additional image beside it.
“What about these two?” Abby questioned.
“I can see the similarities better with these two,” Beth admitted, “But I’m still not sure I would have made that jump had I known of the second symbol.”
Studying Abby’s images for a few moments, Beth took her time before speaking again.
“It’s quite apparent that these mean something to you however, so fill me in.”
Abby grinned, “The second one is the family crest and logo of the Weissager family in
Germany. It was also the personal
logo of Wolfgang Weissager, who ran for Chancellor of Germany last year.”
“Politics,” Joe grumbled as he came back into the room. “Tell me this whole thing isn’t just about politics.”
“Why Joe, I thought you weren’t interested in our conversation,” Beth smiled before turning back to Abby.
“Didn’t he disappear or something before the elections?”
Abby nodded. “You could say that…it was more like exploded though.”
Looking back up, Abby saw that she had both Beth’s and Joe’s attention, their faces exhibiting shock.
“What do you mean by exploded,” Joe asked slowly, “And how the hell would you know that?”
Abby sighed as her eyes moved back down to the book while she collected her thoughts. She had never told anyone what she was about to reveal to these two. Everyone involved had agreed that it was better to keep the knowledge among themselves for obvious reasons.
Taking another deep breath, she let it out slowly through puffed cheeks before answering.
“I was there.”
Looking up again, she was surprised at the lack of emotion exhibited on the others faces.
“I assume there is more to the story?” Joe questioned, urging her to continue as he took a seat across from the couch.
Nodding, Abby leaned back into the couch before speaking again.
“Wolfgang Weissager, or Wolf as he liked to be called…was the Antichrist. And we killed him.”
“Bullshit!” Joe huffed, pushing himself angrily off the chair, “I don’t have time for fairy tales.”
Quickly pulling on a powder-blue jacket, “I’m going out for a smoke.”
Striding quickly across the room, he jerked open the door and stepped into the hallway.
Once he was gone, Beth turned back toward Abby. “Don’t mind him Abby, he’s gruff by nature, and he doesn’t believe in anything he can’t see.”
Abby nodded in understanding, “What about you?”
Beth bit her lip when she heard the question, seeming unsure of herself. “I’ll admit that this is not something that I thought I would be confronting today when I rolled out of bed.”
“That being said, I’ve seen and done many things that I never would have dreamed of since I got in this business.”
Turning toward Abby again, “Please continue.”
Nodding, Abby leaned toward the book again.
“Believe me; I never would have brought it up if these symbols hadn’t shown up in this book. People tend to react negatively to such stories…even if they are believers.”
Beth nodded in agreement. “I can see that,” she smiled, “But that leads me to another question. This book looks to be several hundred years old, if we assume that you have correctly identified these symbols…”
“How did the writers of this book know about it so long ago?” Abby finished Beth’s thought.
“Precisely!” Beth exclaimed. “In other words, what the hell do we have here?”
Abby shrugged, “I’ll know more of course if I can decode it, but the book might be some kind of collection of prophecies of future events?”
Beth leaned forward and leafed through the pages forward and back. “When was this…when you killed Wolf?”
“A year ago,” Abby replied while glancing at Beth, “Last October, why?”
“Just an observation really…if you have indeed decoded the correct meaning of these two symbols, it just so happens that they were printed on one of the last ten pages of the book.”
“So, relatively speaking,” Abby pondered, “If whatever is recorded in here were done chronologically, then we are reaching the end of the story…so to speak.”
Beth nodded thoughtfully. “Besides the obvious question of what this book really is…I would have to wonder who it belongs to. Or at the very least, who had procession of it?”
“And what would they do with it…or do to get it back?” Abby continued the thought.
“Well” Beth replied, “It seems to me that we already know the extent that they would go to retrieve it.”
“You think this whole mess is all about this book?” Abby gasped, a shiver running down her spine.
“It makes sense doesn’t it? Originally we thought that it was all some twisted retribution for something Patrick had done two years ago…and in a way it still is since he took the book home with him.”
Abby leaned back, her face white.
All of this…for an old book?
The possible death of Gabe and Preacher?
The separation from Ya Su?
“Son-of-a bitch!” Abby growled with the building anger, tears streaming down her face.
Beth was taken aback at the emotional display. A woman of action who prided herself on her professionalism, she had little in her life that had prepared her for emotional bonding with another.
Grabbing at Abby’s mug, “I’ll go get some more coffee,” she stated as she quickly stood and made her way across the suite.
Left alone, Abby fought to overcome the blanket of sorrow that was trying to engulf her. Whatever the reasons that had put her in this situation, the realities of that situation were still at hand and she needed to be on her A game if she hoped to rectify any of it!
By the time Beth warily returned with the coffee, Abby had pulled herself together once again.
“Sorry,” Abby uttered upon noticing Beth’s return.
Beth set Abby’s cup down in front of her before taking a seat and sipping from her own cup.
“No worries Abby, you’ve been through a lot. I can only tell you that being in this business can change your life. None of us in Michael’s crew are married or have families, so I can’t even imagine what you’re feeling now.”
After a long pause, Beth proffered another thought.
“Don’t take this the wrong way Abby…but you may want to think about getting out of this business…”
Surprisingly, Abby couldn’t reject the advice out of hand. It was actually something she had given a lot of thought to the last couple of days.
Sitting up straighter, she blew out a breath. “That’s a definite maybe…after we finish this! Finding Gabe and Preacher is the first priority on my mind however!”
“As it should be,” Beth agreed. “Until then, we need to figure out how the book plays into all of this.”
“You never did tell me what that other rune meant,” She stated suddenly, “The first one you showed me?”
Abby smiled a smile of pride. “That one represents the savior of the world, the one chosen to do battle with the antichrist.”
Holding up Beth’s journal, her finger pressed against her previously drawn cross, “And that my friend, was Gabe.”
December 15, 2000
Preacher and I were dropped off outside the gates of a processing plant.
Nearly frozen, we made our way down the decrepit street that fronted the plant and ducked into the first doorway that looked like it may serve something hot to eat.
Our next hurdle was the menu filled with Cyrillic symbols that meant nothing to either Preacher or me. Finding a word on the menu that looked familiar, I pointed it out to the waitress.
“Borscht?” she questioned with a smile.
Shaking my head in the affirmative, I then added an item that I hoped was universal.
When she shook her head in understanding, Preacher nodded toward me and held up two fingers.
Two of the same.
The establishment we had chosen was small but relatively clean.
And it was warm!
Sitting by the window, we had a good view of the street outside, as well as the whole of the inside.
When the coffee came, Preacher busied himself loading it up with sugar before stirring it and taking a sip. Raising my eyebrows at his doctoring of the coffee, something he normally drank black, he shrugged. “I’m just loading up on calories…it’s cold around here!”
I grinned and took another sip from my cup, enjoying the feel of the elixir as it slid down my throat.
“Not to beat a dead horse,” Preacher started, setting down his cup, “But how are we going to find Abby?”
The thought was heavy on my mind also, and I pondered a vague thought that I had mulled over earlier before speaking.
“I think I may have a starting point, but we’ll need a little help to get going.”
Lay it on me,” Preacher answered before taking another sip of his sweetened coffee.
Grinning at his tendency to use old hippy slang, I leaned forward. “We know that she was serving to the general public, so she would have been seen by any of the people that had entered that establishment. All we need is a description of what she looks like written in Russian. Then we just show it around as we make our way through the city. Abby has a unique look about her, with her mixture of Vietnamese and Caucasian features, her light brown hair…”
“Excuse me for saying so,” Preacher interrupted, “But what we find as exotic back in
maybe isn’t that rare in Russia.
She’s of Asian decent…and we’re in Asia. Even a detailed
list of characteristics may not ring any bells with someone from here.”
I sat back in my chair, upset with myself for not thinking my idea through.
At that moment the waitress arrived with our soup. Our conversation forgotten for the moment, we both dug in to the thick broth with gusto.
Essentially cabbage soup, it reminded me of my grandmother’s recipe, which my mother had continued to make until her untimely death decades ago. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the concoction when I was younger, it now brought back good memories from that time long passed. Along with those memories came a certain undeniable sadness for the loss of family.
Even though they had all been gone for a long time, I had always felt like the chess matches I participated in during my time in the room of my dreams had somehow been with my grandfather. But even those were gone now, it having been over a year since I had been allowed to visit.
I squared my shoulders, pushing these memories down. I had the newer generation of Celtics to worry about now…specifically Abby…and we were getting nowhere so far.
“You still have that phone you found?” Preacher questioned between bites.
Nodding, I reached down and unzipped the pocket in my parka and extracted the handset.
“He warned me that it wouldn’t work with any but his number though,” I explained while handing it across the table.
“And you believed him?” Preacher questioned as he grasped the device.
I sat back in my seat, mortified at the thought that the phone may have worked and I hadn’t thought to try it.
“Preacher, I’m sorry…I never gave that a thought.”
Preacher waved away my worry. “There was no reason to doubt what he said; at that point he held all of the cards. It probably doesn’t work with other numbers, but that’s not why I asked to see it.”
Punching a few buttons, Preacher smiled when a certain screen came up. Turning the phone toward me, he held it up to my face.
“Why don’t we just use this when we are out looking for Abby.”
On the phone was the picture they had sent me of Abby, her details clear enough for anyone to recognize if they had seen her before.
Shaking my head for not thinking about using the phone, I looked up at Preacher across the table.
“I’m certainly glad you’re on my side Preacher.”
“Hmmmph,” he uttered before turning off the phone to conserve the battery, “Let’s see if you think so when I’m old and decrepit and you have to take care of me.”
Shocked at the ridiculousness his statement, I looked up to see a wide grin on his face. All of a sudden we both busted out in riotous laughter, the loud ruckus causing every head in the restaurant to turn in our direction.
Neither of us cared however…it was the first time we had laughed like that in a long time…and it lifted our spirits higher than we would have thought possible only moments before.
December 15, 2000
Noon listened unbelievingly as Severus droned on.
“We’ve been keeping tabs on a woman named Raven Forester,” Severus continued. “She is a friend and sometimes partners with the operatives that you captured…the Celtics’. Exceedingly well-to-do, they have been known to use her plane and other possessions when on an operation.”
“I do not see how this concerns me Severus…or how it pertains to the ultimate goal of getting back the Hemlig bok.”
“It concerns you dear Lilla, in that they are enjoining themselves in our plans. They left the states two days ago, ostensibly heading for
their flight plan changed midflight, when it was determined that they were
heading toward Norway
“Unfortunately,” Severus continued determinedly, “Their new destination of Vardo was too remote for us to get men there in a timely fashion. We did however put out an order at the border crossings to watch for their party. We picked up their trail again when they crossed the border at Nikel. We had them held at the border on suspicion of drug smuggling until we could get some men there to follow them.”
It never ceased to amaze Noon how much clout die Bruderschaft could wield when they were after something. That being said, she was suddenly excited at the prospects of this new group being tailed leading her to McGruder, since they still had not been able to ferret out his present location.
“Unfortunately,” Severus continued suddenly, “We have lost them.”
Anger rose in her throat at his sudden and unexpected incompetence.
“We believe they made our men at the hotel where they were staying in Pechenga. Somehow they escaped sometime in the night.”
“That would imply that they already have help lined up,” Noon replied knowingly, “Could it have been McGruder? Could he be this close?”
“We believe that one of the group is using his old contacts…Snake Black is one of them now.”
The familiar name rocked Noon back on her heels. “Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile,” Noon replied with a smile. “Many of his old contacts are also mine Severus.”
“That is why I am contacting you at this time Lilla, we had the very same thought.”
The hairs on Noon’s neck rose at his words. “Why only now Severus? If these people are a threat to my mission, I should have been told of their approach long before now!”
Silence hung on the line for several moments before Severus spoke again. “There are several factors that you are not privy to at the moment Lilla. In any case, it was our thought to keep you on the hunt for the book while we took care of this new group for you.”
“What is it you’re not telling me?” Noon responded acidly. “I can hardly be expected to perform at my best if I do not know certain pertinent facts!”
Again, silence filled the line. “Neither are you in the position to dictate to us Lilla,” he returned with just as much acid in his voice. “You are, after all, still on probation!”
Noon stepped back at the force of the words. “Forgive me Severus, for overstepping my bounds. I simply want what’s best for die Bruderschaft, and perhaps a bit more knowledge will help me attain what it is you seek. It would appear to me now that the book is not the only thing on your agenda?”
A soft laugh found her ears. “You were always the quick one Lilla. Yes, we have additional agendas now…things that have come to light since this whole thing started.”
“Very well,” Noon responded dutifully, “I will keep my ears open and my mouth shut as I look for Snake and his crew.”
“Short of following them to get to McGruder,” Severus interjected, “They are unimportant…except for one.”
Noon listened quietly, feeling that she was not to respond yet.
“They have an infant traveling with them…we would be interested if she could be found and brought to us…alive.”
“Forgive my confusion Severus, but am I to be allowed to know the reason for this…peculiar request?”
“In time Lilla,” Severus replied cryptically, “In time you will know all…a fact that you will hasten should you accomplish this task.”
Noon’s heart jumped into her throat as she contemplated full reinstatement into die Bruderschaft. “You will have my greatest effort sir,” she replied obediently, forgoing their normal intimacy, “I shall make it my highest priority!”
“The book and the girl are our priority Noon, we still require your best effort on both fronts.”
“And you shall have them,” Noon responded giddily before Severus disconnected.
Full of nervous energy, Noon paced back and forth in her office. She found she was having trouble deciding what to do first.
Stopping in the middle of the floor, she closed her eyes to concentrate on a plan. When her eyes reopened, a smile spread across her face. Pulling out her phone, she entered a number she had long ago memorized.
When the other party answered, she heard the familiar voice answer “Da?”
“Anton,” she schmoozed, “It’s been too long!”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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