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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
December 15, 2000
Preacher and I weren’t having much luck.
Even though we had the picture on the phone to show people, the language barrier was stopping us cold.
Neither one of us was any good at foreign languages!
Eventually we discovered that the word “bar” at least seemed to be universally understood, which helped. We also started to develop a sense of who to ask simply based on what we could see of the bar in the picture. Whether right or wrong, we determined that it was unlikely that many women would be frequent customers of the bar in question since there were none in attendance in the picture. We also didn’t bother with well dressed men we happened across on the street, reasoning that they would tend to spend their time in a more upscale establishment.
We did have a good selection of bars on the street we were traveling however…in fact…there was very little else. The meat processing plant we were dropped off at was surrounded by a multitude of other factories. A good watering hole close at hand after one got off work was a necessity everywhere in the world…and a necessity that seemed to have been taken to the extreme here in this city.
We had a least settled into a routine on our mission, entering a bar and holding up the phone while speaking English very slowly.
“Seen-this-girl?” we would start off haltingly to whoever would listen, “Worked-in-bar?”
Usually this was plain enough to them to elicit a firm ‘no’ or the shaking of a head. Some even pulled the phone closer for a better look before replying…but the reply was always negative.
Until it wasn’t.
“Da,” one man finally answered to the affirmative, waving up the street.
“YA videl yeye v Gregor’s”
“Gegor’s?” I asked excitedly, keying in on the name and pointing toward the way he had waved earlier. “Gregor’s is a bar?”
The man nodded knowingly, “Bar, da.”
“How far?” I questioned next
The man shook his head, not understanding. I looked up at the others in the bar, the bartender and four other men.
“Can anyone tell me how to get to Gregor’s?”
“Just-up-street,” one man replied in halting English, “This-side.”
“Thank you!” I replied excitedly, patting Preacher on the shoulder, “Come on Preacher.”
“Thank you very much!” I yelled back over my shoulder as we left the bar and hurried up the street.
One of the men who had been concentrating on his drink suddenly looked up at the fellow beside him, the one that had given directions.
“Ty dolzhen byl skazat' yemu, chto mesto sgorel dotla .” (You should have mentioned that the place has burned to the ground.)
Shrugging, the man took another sip of his beer before answering.
“Oni amerikantsy ... YA dumayu, chto oni ponyat' eto ... v kontse kontsov !” (They’re smart Americans…I think they’ll figure it out…eventually!)
The man’s statement brought a round of laughter throughout the bar.
December 15, 2000
When Anton hung up the phone, there was a film of sweat forming on his broad brow.
“Der’mo !” (Shit!) he exclaimed while glancing toward Snake. “That woman…she scares me!”
“It was Noon?” Snake questioned worriedly, “What’d she want?”
Anton grabbed up a crowbar and moved to the stack of crates before answering. “She wanted you old friend…you and your cadre. Asked me had I see you. Said if I do there is lots and lots of money for me.”
Spending a moment inserting the end of the crowbar under a board, Anton snuck a glance back at Snake.
Snake noticed the glance…and the meaning behind it. Many in Anton’s line of work would easily change sides if a higher offer came in.
And the Russian’s were the worst!
Although Snake had worked with Anton off and on for years, he didn’t consider him a trusted ally…not if it depended on the almighty dollar.
“We also have lots and lots of money for you Anton…enough I hope to buy your continued friendship.”
Anton waved away his concerns before prying down on the lid of the crate. “Friends we have been too long,” he grunted as the crate lid creaked open. “Besides…helping me are you to take this off of my hands.”
Snake moved closer and glanced into the crate, a smile forming on his face at the contents. Reaching down, he pulled up one of the pistols.
“Makarov PMM!” he exclaimed, “A fine piece.”
“I have much more toys for you in these other crate too my friend.”
Snake glanced around warily, “It looks like you have enough here to outfit a small army Anton!”
Anton shrugged. “You say you don’t know what you to be needing.”
His face grew wary then, “You did say you take all off my hands…da?”
Snake sighed as he nodded his head. “I did indeed Anton…a deal is a deal!”
Holding out his hand towards Anton with a smile, they shook on the deal.
Of course Snake was aware that to renege at this point would probably have Noon Byrk and her henchmen on their ass in a matter of minutes.
As much as he didn’t want to, it appeared that it would be a prudent move to find some hefty transportation…and to get the hell away from here ASAP!
December 15, 2000
“She said what?” Michael whispered loudly when Beth finished relaying the events of the morning.
Michael glanced over where Abby was setting up the new computer across the room. His eyes moved next to Patrick McGruder, seeing the little man exhibiting a knowing smile.
“You knew about this?” he questioned McGruder tersely, “About the antichrist mumbo-jumbo?”
“I did indeed,” McGruder answered immediately, his smile never wavering. “I have of course confirmed what I could of the incident, which was a feat in and of itself if I may say so. It’s not something that the powers that be want a lot of people knowing about.”
Grabbing McGruder’s shoulder, Michael turned him away from the others before continuing in a harsh whisper.
“And you didn’t think to tell me this little tidbit?”
“I didn’t think you’d believe me,” Patrick replied seriously, “As is evidenced by your reaction now
Michael drew back in shock.
“In any case,” McGruder continued, “It had little or no bearing on the operation at hand…or at least I thought not at that time. That Noon’s mysterious book seems to mention the episode is…unexpected.”
“Damn right it’s unexpected,” Michael hissed angrily. “We’re not some medieval crusaders here Patrick! We deal with the here and now…we’re not set up for this mystical shit.”
Patrick laid his hand on Michael’s shoulder reassuringly. “There is still plenty of work in the ‘here and now’ as you call it old friend. We still have to find the others and then maybe we can beat a hasty retreat. After that my people can work on the book to reveal any mysteries that it might hold.”
Michael seemed at least partially mollified by Patrick’s words.
“I’m going to hold you to that Patrick. We’ll continue to do what you hired us to do and get your people out. We’ve never quit on a job before and I’m not anxious to start now.”
“Thank you old friend, I’ve never been disappointed in any of our previous collaborations either.”
Michael waved his finger in front of McGruder’s face, “I’m not promising anything, mind you…especially if this veers off into the realm of the mystic shit.”
Dropping his finger then, he let out a breath, “I apologize Patrick, I was hasty with my words a minute ago. You hired us for a job and we’ll be with you till the end…you have my word on that…no matter what.”
McGruder patted Michael’s shoulder. “Let’s get back to business shall we?”
“Yes,” Michael sighed, “Your operatives…they seem to have vanished off of the face of the earth.”
McGruder nodded solemnly. “I’ll keep the radio ads up as long as their needed of course. We may luck out again should they hear it. But we need some more options.”
“I’ve been in contact with everyone we’ve ever worked with,” Beth interrupted, carrying a clipboard and showing it to McGruder. “They’ve all promised to let me know if they hear anything, but up to this point none of them have heard even the slightest grumblings of any kind of hostage deals.”
“We need to find this Noon bitch,” Joe groused from a chair next to them. “Give me a few minutes with her and we’ll know all of her secrets!”
“I think we can all agree that finding her would be the next logical step,” McGruder added thoughtfully, ignoring the last part of Joe’s statement. “Once Abby gets the computer set up, I can work with her to interface with my system back home. I’m relatively certain I can find her…eventually.”
“Beth,” Michael called out from the kitchenette where he had been getting coffee. “Had you asked anyone on the list about her or her location?”
A guilty look crossed Beth’s face. “I hadn’t thought of it, I’m sorry,” she replied apologetically.
Michael waved away her apology. “Our focus wasn’t on her then,” Michael reassured her. “Now however…”
“I’ll get back in touch with the lot of them,” Beth assured him as she turned toward her phone.
“Too bad we don’t know any art thieves,” Michael mumbled before taking a sip of his coffee.
“I may be able to help with that.”
Michael glanced up at the voice, finding Abby suddenly standing beside him.
“Indeed,” McGruder added, “Mr. Black would be an invaluable asset in that respect.”
A concerned look crossed Abby’s face then. “I may have spoken too soon, actually. I did try and call them back home…after I got in touch with you. I couldn’t find anyone.”
“That was over a day ago now,” McGruder smiled, “Let’s give it another go, shall we?”
Nodding, Abby followed McGruder across the room as the rest of them watched.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Joe mumbled from beside Michael.
“Nobody thinks like you do,” Michael grinned. “What’s on your mind buddy?”
Joe glanced over at Abby and McGruder before turning back toward Michael and leaning in.
“What do you suppose the chances are of the rest of the Celtic family taking action and making their way over here?”
“I think it would be a piss-poor idea,” Michael replied immediately. “An additional and uncoordinated excursion by a group of amateurs would muddy up an already murky situation. And besides…they’d probably all get themselves killed.”
Joe sat back in his seat, his eyes still locked intensely on Michael’s.
“That’s not what I asked.”
Michael’s eyes held Joe’s for a few more seconds before he slumped back in his chair and stared off into space.
“Oh shit,” was all he could think to say.
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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