Here then are some more chapters from my new International Thriller...Murmansk! Hope you enjoy this week's offering! New posts every Friday!
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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic series.
Leaning back in my chair, I took a sip of coffee before continuing. “But Preacher and I weren’t tortured per se. Well…Preacher was shot…but mostly he was unconscious throughout the whole thing. And I was too busy trying to stay alive to be frightened about much.”
December 18, 2000
Abby closed her eyes and leaned back in the seat defeatedly, her head splitting from her efforts at translating the book. Unable to use the computer until they got back to the warehouse, she had spread her notes around her on the back seat.
But it was useless!
It seemed to Abby like they had been in the car for most of the day. Driving back to
Murmansk, Michael and his crew had made quick work of clearing out the suite. Then they had driven to the airport so that Michael and Joe, as well as Juliana and Georgette O’Hare could fly back to the states.
Abby had stopped Georgette before she had entered the plane, thanking her for taking care of Ya Su. Georgette had barely acknowledged her…seeming to be in shock as her blank eyes stared at Abby’s.
Abby knew how the woman felt!
She had gone as far as she could go without additional information from the internet, and her current state of worry over Ya Su wasn’t helping her outlook.
“Is there any chance we’ll get there soon?” she complained aloud.
Beth Montoya exchanged hesitant glances with McGruder before turning in her seat to face Abby.
“It’s still about twenty kilometers,” she replied tiredly. “This snowstorm has us at a crawl…so it may be another hour or so.”
Surprised, Abby glanced out the window for the first time.
“Dammit,” she sighed quietly before her eyes returned to Beth. “Sorry to be a grump…I didn’t even know we were in a storm.”
Beth nodded knowingly, “You’ve been pretty intent on that book since we got back into the car.”
Abby shrugged, “Fat lot of good it’s done me…I really need to get connected to the internet before I can go any further.”
“Have you discovered anything at all?” McGruder questioned, “If you don’t mind my asking?”
“Not really,” Abby grumbled sadly, “It still looks to me like what I thought it said about a baby…about Ya Su…”
Abby turned toward the window again, her eyes focused on something far off.
After a few moments however, she cleared her throat and leaned forward.
“I still can’t figure out who these people are supposed to be,” she continued excitedly. “I mean…what’s their end game? And why in hell would they take a little girl…a normal, healthy little girl? When I think about what they could do to her…”
She grew quiet again as her mind was bombarded with sickening thoughts.
“I’ve heard rumblings over the years,” McGruder began, “Unsubstantiated of course, of an ancient and secretive group centered somewhere in
Europe that works at controlling various aspects of the world’s trade. They also purportedly tamper with the money supply of the most prosperous countries, as well as controlling much of the political arena by seeding their own members into high ranking posts.”
“Are you talking something like filling cabinet posts?” Abby replied thoughtfully.
“Indeed,” McGruder nodded, “If not Presidents and Prime Ministers.”
“Even if that were true,” Beth countered quickly, “If they are so old and established, and supposedly already doing these things…why would they be stooping to stealing babies?”
Hearing Beth say it like that made Abby stiffen, but she held her emotions in check.
“Truthfully…I don’t know,” McGruder admitted. “Maybe their sect was built with beliefs in certain…supernatural aspects of the cosmos.”
“If this book is any indication,” Abby started, laying her hand on the old volume, “You may have something there. If I’m any good at deciphering this…I mean if what I think it says is true…than many of the things that have happened in the world in the past have been predicted by this book long before they happened. However that foresight came to be…if a group of people knew what was going to happen before it did, they could easily position themselves to profit from that knowledge.”
Abby’s thoughts had triggered something in Beth.
“Then that’s the one good thing in all of this Abby,” Beth replied softly, reaching back and laying her hand on Abby’s knee. “From what you have translated…it would seem that they would value Ya Su very much! If they do indeed follow what the book says as you propose, then it would indicate that Ya Su is safe for the foreseeable future.”
“It’s the thing you need to hold on to right now,” Beth continued adamantly, “Knowing that they aren’t going to harm her!”
Before Abby could digest this, Beth added one more thought.
“But we will get her back Abby…you have to believe in that! You have a whole team behind you on this!”
Abby smiled a sad smile as she reached up and laid her hand on Beth’s.
“Thanks Beth,” she replied as she squeezed the other woman’s hand. “I appreciate the pep talk…but I just can’t get over this feeling that Ya Su is still in danger…”
December 18, 2000
Ya Su lay in a bassinet, her eyes wandering throughout the room around her until they settled on the person now standing over her.
That person apparently didn’t elicit anything within Ya Su that would cause her to smile, but her eyes still held onto the other’s pale orbs. If anything…Ya Su appeared wary.
Feeling disconcerted by the infant’s stare, Noon stood upright and backed away from the bassinet a step as an unnatural breeze mysteriously blew her white hair back off of her shoulders.
Angered by her eerie reaction to the baby, Noon balled a fist at her side.
“Getting to know our newest member Lilla?” Severus asked as he walked up behind her.
“I see that she already has her own Rune,” Noon replied evenly while pointing to the symbol engraved in the bassinet over the baby’s head.
“Indeed she does,” Severus grinned. “She will be called Perthra from this day forward.”
“It is the symbol on Hemlig Bok,” Noon observed dryly, “You always told me it stood for secrets…”
“Her presence here has been foretold for centuries Lilla, since the time of the writing of Hemlig Bok…in many ways the biggest of secrets. But the rune Perthro denotes much more than a simple secret.”
Noon’s plans for the baby notwithstanding, she had very little interest in the mythical interests of the group. Still, it was important to maintain the facade…especially around Severus. Feigning the curiosity she thought he expected, she asked him to explain.
“Knowledge of future happenings for one…the knowledge of one’s destiny. It also pertains to things feminine, as well as evolutionary change.”
Placing a hand on her shoulder, Severus moved closer. “I’m not supposed to tell you until the conclave in two days,” he whispered conspiratorially, “But Perthra’s appearance here now is fortuitous. Hemlig Bok had predicted her appearance at the turn of the century, but gave no clue as to where or how we would find her. It would seem that your accidental loss of the book, as well as your concerted efforts to retrieve it have been the impetus of her appearance amongst us.”
Pulling away from her, Severus smiled. “It seems that your trials of the last few years were preordained Lilla. It is you that not only brought her to us…but were, in fact, fated to be the reason she is here!”
Although fighting not to show it, Noon nevertheless felt a surge of energy shoot up her spine.
Taking her arm in his, he turned away from the baby and led her toward the exit.
“This series of events have not gone unnoticed by the Clan, Lilla…your standing among them has skyrocketed. You’re to be nominated for Tolfte Gard.” (Twelfth Degree)
Noon’s heart skipped a beat!
Within Die Bruderschaft, members were ranked according to their usefulness to the group based on a system called Graders Belysning (Degrees of Illumination). Within that system, the Thirteenth Degree was the highest, or Trettonde Grad, and reserved only for active members of The Clan. Of course, that station in the Brotherhood was only available to members of the ancient ruling families, and was based primarily on their heritage.
To be nominated to the Twelfth Degree would put her in the company of various world leaders and heads of state. Before she had been excommunicated, she had barely risen to the Sjunde Grad, or Seventh Degree. Her wildest hope before this minute had been to be reinstated at that level and avoid having to start over again.
“You honor me,” Noon replied with bowed head, her feelings at the moment genuine. “It is a sign of respect that I could not have hoped for.”
Severus quietly bowed his head in return, a knowing smile on his lips.
“May I be allowed a question,” Noon asked subserviently, “About…all of this?”
“Officially…no,” Severus replied seriously. Stopping suddenly, he turned toward Noon and leaned toward her ear. “Between us however,” he started before kissing her gently on the cheek, “I seem to have a weakness.”
Placing his arm through hers again, they continued down a long, deserted hallway. “So…your question was…?”
Noon took a few moments to form her question properly…not wanting to seem either ungrateful, or worse, dim-witted.
“How does the infant fit into the whole scheme of things within Die Bruderschaft? I mean…you have informed me that her appearance was foretold…but what is it that she is supposed to do? How can a mere baby be so important to a great society that has existed for centuries?”
Severus smiled at her. “She can do little as an infant Lilla…and I can see how that fact might have confused you.”
They walked on down the hallway, Severus quietly forming his words. “In essence, she will one day lead us Lilla. She will claim a spot on the Clan at the first opportunity, and from there she will rise to prominence from within.”
Noon stopped in her tracks, grasping a little too hard on Severus’ sleeve as she glared at the man.
“But how can this be?” she hissed, “One needs to be born into the Clan!”
Severus removed her hand determinedly before continuing. “Do not make me regret exposing you to inside knowledge Lilla.”
Noon backed away a step, lowering her head. “Forgive me Severus, but my fervor comes only from my background as a dedicated member of Die Bruderschaft. There are ways that things have always been done…I would not be alone in my feelings if you announced such a thing openly to everyone.”
Severus’s face took on a thoughtful air. “Then I will need to work on my presentation for the conclave.”
Giving it some more thought, he seemed to ignore Noon for several moments before he turned back toward her. “It seems that I owe you an apology Lilla. Things will need to be presented to the others with great care…”
Taking her arm again, they continued to walk down the hallway. “In answer to your question…Ilker Cerdic, the most senior member of the clan will soon take his leave…if he doesn’t die first. When news of the infant reached us, our researchers dug into the past, looking for a connection to one of the families within the Clan. As it happens, there is a connection…and her lineage has been traced to that of the Cerdic clan.”
Glancing over at Noon, “You do not think us so dim-witted as to embrace an infant as our savior without doing the most elementary of research do you Lilla?”
Noon closed her eyes at the chastisement. “I was not thinking clearly Severus…please forgive me once again for my brashness.”
As they continued down the hallway, Severus remained silent for several more minutes. “You have asked me what she will do,” he continued then, “And I have only told you why she is here.”
Stopping again, he turned toward Noon seriously. “The truth is, we don’t know exactly what she will do…or how she will accomplish it. Hemlig Bok hints at her having powers beyond that of mere humans however.”
Noon was taken aback at his words…working hard to reign in her revulsion before speaking.
“Are you trying to say…she has magical abilities?”
Severus shrugged, “It is thought to be so, although some in the Clan want to test her abilities before allowing her a seat.”
Noon’s fury at the Clan’s imbecilic belief in magic threatened to crack through her scull.
“What type of tests?” she asked through clenched teeth.
“We have people looking into that,” he continued, “But in the meantime, her age brings forth a unique opportunity for you, Lilla.”
So maddened by his talk of magic and the illogical beliefs of the Clan, Noon barely heard Severus’ statement. When the words finally worked through her anger, she looked up at Severus suspiciously.
“What type of opportunity?” she asked after a few moments.
“Because of her age, Perthra will of course not be able to conduct business until older. It is a bit unusual…but there is talk of electing a Vicekonung to represent her.” (A Viceroy)
“There has also been talk…of that person being you Lilla.”
Noon’s heart leapt into her throat! This was beyond anything she ever could have hoped for…a seat on the Clan!
Smiling warmly, she took Severus’ hand in hers and started toward his quarters. “We should discuss this further,” she smiled, keeping her eyes forward, “Although with a few less layers of clothing!”
As they walked quickly toward Severus’ bed, she found that her thoughts had returned once more to the infant.
And so it would seem that our lot in life is forever tied together, she thought to herself as if speaking to Perthra.
This definitely changed things she knew…but it didn’t diminish the one driving force that had spurred her on since she had been reunited with Die Bruderschaft.
The baby still had to die…although she would now have to be exceedingly careful how she did it.
Maybe a convenient accident during one of her magical tests!
In any case, acting as a Vicekonung would put her in the Clan…and once she was there she would have no desire to leave. She would just need to figure out how to stay there once she had snuffed the life out of little Perthra…
December 18, 2000
I awoke with a start in the darkened room. Initially thinking I was in the room that I used to go to in my dreams; I soon realized that I was just in a darkened portion of the warehouse’s office.
At some time earlier in the evening, after a hard day of trying to track Noon, most of us had given in to the call for rest.
Many of us had been awake for several days on end.
I could hear May’s breathing beside me. We had fallen asleep on one end of the couch with her leaning against me. Raven and Snake had claimed the other end, both still fast asleep.
The rest of the crew was sprinkled throughout the large office, trying to make themselves comfortable in an array of mismatched and broken-down furniture.
Feeling the need for coffee, I pushed May away from me slightly as I got up, then laid her gently back down on the couch before turning toward the kitchenette.
Although we were all hurting at the temporary loss of Ya Su, I was somewhat pleased about a couple of things concerning our situation. One was that we had a place at all to huddle down in while we tried to find my granddaughter, and the other was that it had a working coffee pot…along with several days’ worth of strong Russian coffee.
“Morning Gabe,” I heard behind me as I was pouring the water.
“Morning Josh,” I replied before turning around and having a closer look at our young pilot.
He looked like hell!
Snake had worried about some of Anton’s customers showing up unannounced, so we had set up a schedule for guarding the location. It was apparently Josh’s turn.
“Ready for coffee?” I asked before turning around and washing out two cups.
A tired smile crossed Josh’s lips. “I have never drunk so much coffee in my life as I have since I met your family.”
“Since you joined our family you mean,” I stated as I handed him a cup filled to the brim.
Thanking me, he took a long sip before speaking again.
“Thank you for saying that,” he continued thoughtfully, “About being a member of your family, although I don’t feel like I’m helping our cause much at the moment.”
I nodded in response, “I feel much the same way,” I admitted.
It had to be hard for him, probably harder for him than all of us. Wanting nothing more than to comfort Abby, I had seen her both accept his love and then reject it, all within five minutes time. I could only guess that those times she rejected his help stemmed from guilt over feeling comfort when her daughter was still in danger.
“Abby’s in a tough place right now,” I said then, “You can’t take it personally when it seems she is…vacillating in her feelings toward you.”
A sad smile crossed his lips. “I know that in my heart,” he admitted, “And I try to keep that in mind. I would do anything for those two…for any of you guys really. I just wish we could find out where she is so that we could get past this…waiting!”
I nodded in agreement. “Waiting is tough, but Abby and Patrick are two of the best at finding people that I know. Once they get back at it…”
“They never stopped,” Josh interrupted, pointing down the hall with his cup. “They’ve been at it all night.”
Surprised that neither of them had gone to bed, I turned toward the sink again and poured two more cups of coffee. “Guess I better give them an infusion,” I said as I poured the cups.
“Yeah, I better make another round,” Josh replied before downing the contents of his cup. “Thanks for the coffee Gabe,” he continued as he set the cup on the counter, “And for the talk.”
Nodding, I turned toward him. “There will be plenty all day…of both if you need it.”
Smiling, he nodded at me before picking up his rifle and moving toward the exit door to check the grounds.
Clasping the three cups of coffee, I moved down the hallway toward the small conference room where Abby and McGruder had set up shop.
Turning into the doorway, I saw McGruder pecking away at the computer, weariness clearly showing on his face. Abby was sleeping beside him, her head lying on her arms which were folded over the book.
“Morning,” I whispered, “Ready for coffee?”
“Indeed,” McGruder replied, looking up from the computer. “Thank you,” he continued as I handed him his cup…complete with creamer substitute and four sugars.
“I’m fairly certain you don’t need to whisper,” he continued, glancing toward Abby. “Poor girl has worn herself to the bone…I don’t think a Russian tank would awaken her for a few more hours.”
Nodding, I sat down across from him, my eyes still on Abby.
“I’m very worried about her,” I admitted before I realized it. “She’s been through so much already.”
McGruder’s face grew wary. “Don’t take this the wrong way Gabriel, but once we get back home…I think it would be a prudent matter for all of you to seek some psychological treatment. Studies have shown that those taken hostage…especially if tortured, greatly benefit from a round of psychoanalysis.”
Surprised, I glanced over at McGruder before turning my eyes back toward Abby. “Certainly for her, I agree…just with what she is going through now would be enough to warrant it…and who knows what she went through before this…”
Memories of the look on her face the day before when she sloughed off her experiences while she was missing…it haunted me.
Patrick just stared at me thoughtfully before once again speaking. “What Abby is going through now…you are also going through Gabriel…just keep it in mind if things seem a little…off when you get back. That’s all I ask.”
“Noted,” I replied before taking another sip, uncomfortable with the whole topic.
“Have you guys been able to make any headway?” I asked then, hoping to move the topic away from our collective sanity.
McGruder smiled, “Something has occurred to me within the last few minutes; although it’s just theoretical…based solely on a news article I happened across.”
“I’m all ears Patrick,” I replied, sitting up straighter in my seat. “Anything that gives us something to work toward is better than all this waiting.”
“Agreed,” Patrick responded while turning the monitor toward me.
“The G8 is holding an unexpected summit in two days,” McGruder started, “In Stockholm, Sweden.”
“What’s that?” I asked dumbly, at that moment regretting my propensity to ignore most of the news of the world.
“The G8 is a governmental forum of the eight leading economies of the world,” McGruder quickly spieled off. “They usually have an annual meeting, as well as many smaller meetings among appointed ministers in preparation of the annual meeting. But this newly scheduled summit is quite perplexing.”
“How so?” I prodded, trying desperately to grasp his concern.
“It’s perplexing Gabriel, in that it is a full-fledged summit, involving all of the various heads of government like you would expect to see in an annual meeting. Ostensibly, it’s to discuss their failing economic initiatives.”
I sat back slowly, trying to digest the information. “Pardon my denseness Patrick…but I’m not seeing the problem. The economy sucks right now…”
“Can you imagine,” McGruder interrupted, “What it would take to carve out four days of unscheduled time for the President of the
United States with just two days notice?”
I mulled this over for a few minutes. “I guess that could be rather problematic,” I admitted.
“Now try doing that for seven other heads of state at the same time…those governing the most powerful countries on earth…with two days notice…all done within a week of Christmas!”
The reality of the situation finally hit me. “That would be impossible!”
“Precisely,” McGruder smiled, “And yet someone has arranged it with a moment’s notice.”
“But what’s this got to do with Ya Su?” I asked as dumbness once more layered itself over me like a blanket.
“We…Abby and I, think that those that who previously possessed the book…she calls them the Brotherhood…have taken Ya Su. We think that Noon is a member of this group, based on her previously having the book in her possession.”
“She could have stolen it,” I reminded him quickly.
“Indeed she could have, but that doesn’t negate the possibility of her being a member. Their location must be a highly guarded secret, known only to the members.”
I mulled this over. “Please continue,” I prodded finally.
“Since the book mentions an infant that will become their leader in the future, it isn’t a great leap to assume that they would be the ones to have taken her.”
“I can see where you might have gotten that,” I replied, sitting up straighter again, “But I’m still lost on the relationship to this G8 thing.”
To his credit, I thought Patrick showed great patience as he continued to work my mind to his way of thinking.
“There are many stories, Gabriel, of a secretive group that holds sway over the economies and governments of the world. In the past, I would have classified these stories as more of an urban legend than actual fact, but I no longer feel that way. I think that this Brotherhood has arranged this meeting…and that this public summit will work to disguise their true intentions.”
I stood up, anxiousness suddenly overtaking me. “I don’t like hearing what you’re telling me,” I mumbled as I started pacing. “You’re trying to tell me that the leaders of the world are secretly controlled by some…some group that hides behind the scenes?”
McGruder shrugged, “Maybe not all of them.”
I plopped back down in my seat. “Who are these people?” I questioned with concern, “And how could they exert such control over the world’s governments?”
“If you believe the fact that the book holds knowledge of future global events,” McGruder started, eyeing me intently, “Then I can see any number of ways that they could wield that kind of power.”
“For one, there would be investing in calamity. If you know there is going to be a natural disaster for instance, you invest in the things that will be needed after. You then control a large portion of whatever it is you’ve invested in, while at the same time depleting the reserves of the factories that produce the commodity. Once the disaster hits of course, the factories will step up their production, but they’re already behind the eight ball. In the mean time, you sell out your stock at a handsome profit.”
“So they become rich,” I spit out, not quite sure what else to say.
“Over hundreds of years and having advanced knowledge of what’s to come, I can’t even fathom the amount of wealth that they could have possibly amassed.”
“And money buys politicians.”
“And elections,” McGruder added quickly. “Once they have control over the government, then they can manipulate any number of things…the supply of money, who goes to war and who doesn’t…”
“And everyone just follows their lead, and the world continues to turn,” I gripe, disgusted at the state of our planet.
“Most will follow, I agree. I’m sure there are some that haven’t however…possibly someone named Kennedy for instance?”
My head jerked in his direction. “You can’t possibly be suggesting…”
McGruder shrugged, “I of course have no way of knowing…still…it gives one pause…”
I shook my head; trying to clear my thoughts…I was in no mood for conspiracy theories.
“But why the public forum?” I questioned then, moving my thoughts back to the upcoming gathering. “The eyes of the world will be on the summit.”
“Can you imagine what would happen if eight of the greatest leaders of the world suddenly disappeared for a day…or even two…all at the same time?”
“Point taken,” I agreed, “But still, what’s the point of bringing them together so quickly? There’s still a big risk of exposure if you’re right about this.”
“The point my dear Gabriel, is that this Brotherhood would be steeped in tradition, and if they indeed followed the lexis of the book, there would also be a strong belief in the mysticism surrounding their accomplishments. It’s something they would want to share with their members.”
“So,” I started, fumbling for the words, “They bring in the world leaders that they supposedly control to do what…crow of their accomplishments at stealing a baby?”
Shaking his head, he brought up a picture of Ya Su that Abby must have downloaded onto the computer.
“No, they bring in the heads of state to introduce them to the fulfillment of the prophecy. They bring them in to show them…the next leader of the world!”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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