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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
|Original Concept Cover|
December 15, 2000
“What are we going to do once we find out where he’s going?” Preacher asked from beside me in the back seat of the cab.
“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “Maybe find Abby…maybe find the real reason for our abduction.”
“You don’t think it’s just about a bigger payday from McGruder?”
I shrugged, “It could be…it could be a lot of things. But I think there’s something much deeper going on here. Sticking us out in the tundra wasn’t an act that leads me to believe they were ever coming back for us. We weren’t important to the resolution of whatever is going on…although I’m still uncertain as to why they separated us from Abby.”
“Forgive me for saying so,” Preacher replied in a low voice, “But it could be a white slave sort of thing. Although she’s a little old for it, Abby is still a beautiful woman.”
Shock at his statement coursed throughout my body but was quickly replaced by a thought that settled those nerves.
I gave Preacher a small smile, “That would be a big mistake on their part.”
“Agreed,” Preacher answered with his own smile, “But they wouldn’t have known that…at least not in the beginning.”
“Mr. SUV is moving onto the motorway.” Nick called back from the front seat. “Continue to follow him I thinks?”
“Yes,” I replied quickly, “We don’t want to lose him wherever he goes.”
Giving it more thought, I called back up to Nick. “Where does this motorway lead anyway?”
Nick shrugged, “Many places…north of the city…Pechenga I thinks. A map you like to see?”
“Yes I would,” I answered, “If you have one.”
Nodding, Nick suddenly leaned over and started riffling through the glove box with both hands as the car veered into the next lane amid multiple horns blaring behind us.
Sitting back up quickly, Nick looked into his mirror and held up one finger in aggravation. “Stupid Russians know not good manners,” he sighed before handing back a well used, folded map, “Apologies my friends.”
Waiting for my heart to slow before thanking him, I took the map and spread it out on my lap as Preacher leaned in to have a look.
“We’ll be right back where we started,” Preacher offered, pointing to the spot on the map indicating Sputnik.
“That gives me an idea,” I smiled as I looked up at Preacher, “A way of screwing with him while maybe finding out a little more about him.”
“I’m game for anything,” Preacher replied while leaning back into his seat. “Think we can do it without getting caught?”
I shrugged, “It seems like it to me…I guess you never know though.”
Glancing over to Preacher, “What say you partner, shall we give it a try?”
Preacher was grinning when he turned toward me and answered, “Full fucking steam ahead!”
Ivan was contentedly humming along to the music on the radio when his cell phone went off. Not paying any attention to who the caller was, he flipped his phone open and answered.
He could hear the screaming of the wind from the caller’s end of the call.
“Hey asshole,” a voice screamed at him above the roaring of the wind. “Are you ever coming back here to get us?”
Shocked, Ivan pulled the phone away from his face and stared at the screen.
“Der’mo!” he whispered when he saw the number of the sat phone he had left with the prisoners.
Pushing the phone back to his ear, he started to say something before noticing that the line was dead.
He had deposited the men there over four days before, and was having a hard time believing they could still be alive!
Concern edged its way into his thoughts.
What if they were somehow rescued…what if they lived and eventually identified him?
Anger then replaced concern as his mind went through all of the scenarios. He had assured his boss that they would quickly perish…and that there was no need to hurry to make another trip to the isolated outpost.
As if fate was guiding him, he noticed the exit ahead. If he took the exit however, he would lose a good two hours, and Noon was expecting him soon.
“Fuck the bitch,” Ivan hissed as he jerked the wheel over and took the exit ramp.
I pulled my head back into the car and closed the window to the icy cold, shutting off the phone again to conserve the battery.
“Think he’ll take the bait?” Preacher asked from beside me.
“Judging from the gasp when he heard my voice, I’d say we stand a better than even chance of him going for it.”
“They can track sat phones you know. If he checks into it he’ll know we’re not still on Rybachy.”
I nodded and turned toward Preacher. “I’m betting on that taking too long…and would probably involve letting his boss know if he has one. I’m counting on the thought that we still being alive would be seen as a screw-up.”
“He taking exit to Sputnik!” Nick called back, “Follow him I should?”
“Yes,” I grinned, “But stay well back…I think he will be stopping very soon!”
Ivan felt sick as he glanced around the cold, empty outpost.
They were gone…and apparently had been for quite awhile.
How did they escape?
Spying the pallets that had once been Preacher’s bed, Ivan squatted down to investigate, seeing the remnants of blood…a lot of blood.
Maybe they both didn’t get out alive at least, he smirked as he stood.
“If they were gone,” he mumbled to himself, “Why call me? Why not just get on a plane and get out of the country?”
The answer, when it hit him, caused him to curse and burst out of the shack at a run towards the snowmobile.
It had been a setup!
Waiting in the cab twenty minutes after Ivan left to make sure no one was watching, we finally exited the car and made our way to the SUV.
Working quickly, Nick extracted a Slim Jim from his coat and proceeded to unlock the car door.
Looking at him suspiciously when he turned around, he merely shrugged and grinned broadly.
“Customers often be needing help to getting into their cars.”
Smiling at his answer, I moved past him and slid into the front seat. The first thing I noticed was the stack of Benjamins staring back at me.
Grinning, I lifted the notes and held them out toward Nick.
“I’ll be needing my watch back now.”
Eyes wide in shock, Nick lifted the bundle out of my hand and swiftly flipped through it.
“There is much more than two-thousand American here my friend.”
Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew my watch and handed it back to me. “But I will take it…maybe I get new car.”
Grinning, I went back to rummaging through the car, quickly coming across the sack filled with money.
“Here you go Preacher,” I grinned as I handed the sack over to him, “Your payment for him shooting you.”
Preacher’s eyes also grew wide when he looked into the sack.
“Damn!” was all he uttered before cinching the sack back up and dropping it at his feet. “What else you got in there?”
“Why don’t you get in the back and have a look while I finish the front,” I replied while opening the glove box.
“Come to papa,” I grinned as the handgun appeared in the glove box, the light gleaming off the shiny, oiled surface.
“9MM automatic,” I boasted while picking it up and pulling the clip, “Fully loaded with two…no three extra clips!”
“I can beat that,” Preacher grinned as he turned from leaning over into the cargo area. “Two assault rifles….AK-47’s!”
Holding one in each hand, he looked like a child that had just got the greatest Christmas present ever.
Another five minutes of searching garnered nothing else except the man’s name and address that were listed on the car’s registration…which I also took with me.
“So, do we wait for Mr. Ivan Primalov and take him prisoner?” Preacher asked as we were walking back to the cab with our loot.
I gave this some thought as we loaded up the trunk, waiting until we were back in the car before replying.
“I think not,” I finally replied. “When he gets back, he’s already going to be pissed that we weren’t still on Rybachy. When he sees what we took from him…”
“He’ll be livid!” Preacher finished my sentence. “And people that mad make mistakes!”
“My thoughts precisely,” I agreed before turning toward Nick. “Pull us back, further away from this lot so he can’t see us when he gets back Nick.”
Still grinning from his newfound wealth, Nick bobbled his head excitedly, “Whatever you say boss!”
“Hmmph,” Preacher grumbled good-naturedly, “He’s starting to sound like Snake!”
December 16, 2000
“Sorry old friend,” Snake whispered quietly as he finished tying an unconscious Anton to a chair.
“We’re about ready Snake,” Raven said as she stepped through the doorway, an assault weapon slung over her shoulder. Wearing a black, heavily-ribbed military sweater and cargo pants, Snake’s heart skipped a beat as he watched her walk toward him. Arriving next to him, she glanced down sadly at the unconscious man.
“That’s a shame, but I guess you had your reasons.”
Snake nodded while straightening up. “I’m relatively certain he’s sold us out Raven. For that he’s lucky I didn’t shoot him myself.”
“But you can’t be sure…”
Snake shrugged, “If I’m wrong…he’s been treated worse by his good customers.”
Watching Raven’s smile grow at his statement, Snake once again thanked the Gods above for allowing them to be together. Turning as one, their arms entwined as they headed through the doorway and into the warehouse area.
Once there, they observed Josh helping May into the back of the cab of the Ural 4x4 utility truck. Handing up her gun next, he then took Ya Su into his arms as Georgette pulled herself up into the cab.
The baby’s eyes were alert as she took in the warehouse over Josh’s shoulder before he then handed her up to Georgette. Turning to grab his own gun, he caught sight of Raven and Snake. Grinning broadly, he snapped off a salute before turning and making his way out of the warehouse by a side entrance.
“You’d never know we were a bunch of untrained operatives on a hopeless mission would you?” Snake offered while shaking his head.
Raven pecked his cheek before she herself moved toward the truck. “Speak for yourself,” she replied over her shoulder, giving him a wink. “And get the door while you’re at it.”
Grinning, Snake headed to the overhead door and hit the button to raise it before moving to the driver’s seat of the truck. The Ural-43206 was originally developed for the Russian military, but had quickly become available to the general public when the Russians were confronted by the realities of their failing economy. Initially hesitant about standing out while driving around in this particular truck, Snake had quickly remembered how many they had passed on the motorway during their drive here.
Starting the truck, he moved it out of the warehouse and stopped before exiting the truck to reclose the warehouse door. Moving once again to the truck, he let out a nervous breath before reentering the cab.
“I sure hope this works.”
Twenty minutes later, a squad of armed men burst through the door.
Immediately spreading out, their guns at the ready, they had the building secured within a minute.
Upon sounding the all clear, Noon Byrk breezed into the building, her white hair flowing behind her. On another day, the men surrounding her might have mistakenly thought she looked sexy as she made her entrance.
Not one man made that fatal mistake today however. The flash in the pale eyes and the frown on her lips would allow no such thoughts to enter the head of anyone near her.
Walking up to the unconscious Anton, she looked down on the sniveling black-marketer.
“Värdelös skit,” she hissed while slapping him across the face. “Vakna du stinkande bit av dynga ! (Useless shit, Wake up you stinking piece of dung!)
Anton howled out in pain while his head rolled loosely on his shoulders. “What is it?” he growled, raising his unfocussed eyes toward Noon.
Flicking the knife out of its sheath, Noon grabbed his hair with her free hand and shoved his head back violently. Within seconds, the point of the knife was drawing a trickle of blood on his neck.
“Where are my prisoners?” she screamed, “Where is the infant?”
Fighting back fear, Anton swallowed before speaking. “I say by throb in head they tire of my friendship. Probably took what they wanted and left.”
Slashing at him in frustration, Noon carved a long, shallow cut in Anton’s neck.
Thinking it was fatal; Anton quickly tried to grab his neck with his bound hand while simultaneously pushing himself away from her, causing his chair to topple backwards.
“Idiot!” Noon hissed, turning to one of the men.
“Get him up and see if he can figure out what they have taken.”
“Yes sir!” the man replied before turning and yelling at one of the other men to untie Anton.
Turning away from the others, Noon stalked across the warehouse, seething.
This was all Ivan’s fault!
She shuddered with anger at the thought.
If he had arrived at her place on time, they might have gotten here and captured the Americans…captured the damned infant!
A sudden thought came to mind, one of sticking her knife into Ivan’s entrails as he howled in pain. Closing her eyes, her body shuddered in glee as she carried the deed further and further in her mind. By the time she was done, his bloody corpse would not be identifiable to his own mother.
Opening her eyes, she felt the cold calmness return to her…the calmness that allowed her to be who she was…the calculated calmness that instilled fear in the others around her.
Turning on her heel, she stalked back toward the men purposefully.
“I want a list of everything that is missing and everyone back in the trucks in three minutes!”
Turning to leave, one of her men nervously stepped in front of her. “Sir…what do we do with the man?”
Turning to glance toward Anton over her shoulder, she turned back to the black-clad soldier.
“He is of no use to me now.”
With that, she stepped around the soldier and left the building, knowing that even though she had left the words unspoken, this would be Anton’s last day on this earth.
December 16, 2000
The hotel suite was quiet. It was the middle of the night and everyone was asleep…except for Abby.
Pouring more coffee into her cup, she shoved the pot back into the coffee maker and padded barefoot back toward the desk.
She had been working on the book off and on all day, and although she seemed to be making some headway, it continued to be slow going.
Setting down again in front of the computer, she flicked the mouse to get rid of the screen saver. Sitting back in her chair and sipping her coffee, she stared at the screen.
Displayed on the screen was window after window of websites dedicated to the interpretation of runes. The only problem was…there were no definitive definitions of runes!
Glancing down at the cover of the old book, she took in the symbol there…a perfect example.
Named Perthro, the literal meaning was actually unknown, and even semi-accepted guesses to the translation were sometimes different depending on the origin. In other words, the definition may be different dependant on if it was written by Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, or Norse peoples.
Accepted meanings then could be: mystery, chance, or gamble. Many, more modern interpretations think it could also refer to science and technology.
Not to be out done, spiritual interpreters would say it involved the disclosure of a secret…but then say it could also refer to the sensible and moderate enjoyment of sexuality!
Abby closed her eyes while shaking her head. Fatigue was building within her…fatigue and depression.
Once again they had been unable to contact anyone yesterday. May, Raven and Snake were off the grid. Hopefully they had Ya Su with them at least. Even Josh couldn’t be reached…and he usually answered her calls on the first ring! And of course there had still been no sign of Gabe and Preacher either.
Sighing, Abby fought back an overwhelming urge to cry.
Late last night, Abby and McGruder had looked over the data collected by his computer system and made an educated guess as to where to find Noon’s hideout.
They had settled on a place called Luostari…a little over two hours away.
Since it had been so late, everyone had decided to get a good night’s sleep and head there in the morning.
But Abby couldn’t sleep, worry and negative thoughts overpowering her every time she closed her eyes.
Instead, she had gone back to trying to translate the book.
Sighing again, Abby set down her cup and opened the book to where she had left off. She then opened a spreadsheet she had been working on.
Since there was so much information for each rune she came across, she had decided to create the spreadsheet to help her figure the translation out.
Listing each rune by name, she would then use the next five columns to record the five best options for a translation, grouping the listings as they had been in the book. In other words, each page in the book had a corresponding page on the spreadsheet; each gap in a page had a similar gap, etc. etc.
She anticipated that when she printed it out, she would be able to read down it and circle the most apt translation as she went, hoping it might make more sense then.
Abby couldn’t help but smile when the spreadsheet appeared on her screen. She had just finished a section before her break; the section that she had assumed had been talking about Gabe and Wolf. Happily, she had found additional evidence to help prove her theory.
Although neither of the runes she had originally spotted was identifiable on any of the websites she had found so far, there were corresponding runes listed under the originals that had descriptions on every webpage.
Under Gabe’s Rune, she had identified a rune called Mannaz:
The common translation for this rune was mankind…or more precisely, God reflected in humankind…savior.
Similarly, Wolf’s rune had a corresponding rune called Thurisaz:
The common meanings for this symbol were also apt…giant, monster…devil!
Even though Wolf’s and Gabe’s symbols had no meaning to the world at large, Abby was still amazed that whoever had written the book had somehow known what they would be hundreds or even thousands of years before they were actually used.
Proving at least to herself that she had correctly interpreted the runes had gone a long way toward giving her the confidence to continue with the translations.
It was the only thing that was holding her emotions in check!
Abby jumped with the words as McGruder suddenly appeared beside her.
“Geez Patrick! You scared the crap out of me!”
Looking up at McGruder, Abby noticed the smile on his face. “What’d you do, oil your braces?” she asked referring to the clicking noise that usually preceded him everywhere he went.
McGruder could only shrug. “It may be due to the cold temperatures that has smoothed out their operation,” he offered in explanation. “Have you been up all night?”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Abby grumbled while turning back toward the computer screen, “And translating this book is contributing to my eventual senility.”
McGruder laughed at her response.
“I assume that you have made some headway though?”
“Some,” Abby replied with a small smile. “I more or less confirmed my theory about it mentioning Gabe, and I have some thoughts on a couple of other things.”
“Do tell,” McGruder urged, “Would you care to enlighten me?”
Abby shrugged, “Don’t hold me to anything yet.”
Flipping to the cover of the book, she laid her finger on the symbol there. “I believe this to be a description of what is found within. This symbol can mean mystery…or secrets revealed. I believe this to be a book of prophecies about future events throughout the world. Since it was written long ago however, we will probably find that some of these have come to pass already…like the showdown between Gabe and Wolf last year.”
“Extraordinary,” McGruder whispered in reply, leaning closer to the book. “That such a book could even be written is…astounding!”
“I know right?” Abby grinned. “I think we’ll find a lot of stuff that we recognize having happened in the past…and a few yet to come that we may not want to know!”
“Indeed,” McGruder responded thoughtfully. “I can certainly see why Noon Byrk would want it back, although I can’t imagine why she would have it in her possession in the first place.”
Abby shrugged, “I would say that either she is a member of the group that controls it…or she stole it from them.”
“Do we know who this group is?” McGruder questioned then.
“Not precisely,” Abby responded while bringing up a screen on the computer, “Take a look at this though.
This rune is called Othala, generally it represents inheritance, group order and prosperity.”
Clicking a few more keys, Abby brought up a second image.
“This one is also Othala, but it’s reversed, or flipped so it’s known as Othala Merkstave. It represents totalitarianism, slavery and poverty.”
“I’m following you so far,” McGruder nodded, “But where are you going with this?”
Flipping the cover back, Abby then pointed to the first rune in the book. “This image appears numerous times throughout the book, and since it is the very first image, it could be construed as very important.”
“I would agree with your assessment Abby,” McGruder replied, his attention on the image. “And you have a theory as to what it represents?”
“Just an educated guess Patrick,” Abby replied while looking up at McGruder, “But one that seems to fit the circumstances.”
“Please proceed,” McGruder urged.
“Since Othala deals with group dynamics and prosperity, and the Merkstave position represents denial of freedom…I think it represents a group that deals with both…or maybe one that controls the outcome of both to suit their needs…using this book as a guide.”
“So you are theorizing that this is a group…much like the Bilderbergs or The Thule Society…bent on some sort of world domination?”
Abby held up her hands in surrender. “I don’t know Patrick. So far it’s only a theory, but there have been numerous references to that symbol in the book…and some other references close to the symbol that lead me to believe they go by a certain name.”
“You’ve scratched out a name for them?” McGruder questioned, his interest piqued.
“If I’ve read it right I have,” Abby responded.
“I think they may call themselves…The Brotherhood.”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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