Zeus was use to functioning with less sleep than Richard was. Richard slept until noon and even after sleeping most of the hour and a half trip to Berne, he was still feeling groggy. They arrived ahead of his father and got a table on the terrace at La Terrasse. They were overlooking the Old City and Aare River, and in the distance the Alps. It looked like a painting so surreal you had to make sure your eyes were working properly.
His dad arrived fifteen minutes later. For the first time in his memory his father looked beyond his age. Business dominated his early years, he married late and had his children later in life. He kept his youth through all the stresses of running a multi-million dollar business. Today the grey at his temples had spread over most his head. His mustache had turned white and his glasses looked thicker. His normally tanned skin was pale. His normal perfect presentation was just a bit off.
Richard had already ordered his favorite dish off the menu, a mushroom soup. He gave Zeus and his son hearty handshakes and embraced them with a hand across the shoulders. He called the waiter over and ordered a Glen Fiddich, in a rocks glass with one ice cube.
“So what have you boys been up to? What brings you to Berne?”
Zeus took the lead making sure to steer the conversation. “We are unraveling quite a mystery. We have discovered that there may have been Nazi’s working on American soil.”
His father nodded, “Interesting, I do recall that some Nazi spies and saboteurs were caught in the States.”
Richard interjected, “Yes, but we have uncovered a vast conspiracy to do irreparable damage to the U.S. Now to be blunt, you didn’t fly across the Atlantic to have lunch and catch up with us. Why do you really want to talk?”
As Richard finished the waiter walked over with his dad’s drink and broke the momentary tension. Richard Chosset Sr. swirled the single ice cube in the glass watching it like a ship battling the sea. He put it to his lips and took half the glass down. With a slight tremor in his hand he placed the glass upon the table.
“What if I told you everything the three of us have worked for is at jeopardy? All of our blood, sweat, tears for naught. The company I have spent a lifetime building folded like a cheap beach chair. And then let me ask if you had the opportunity to prevent it would you?”
“That’s a pretty stupid question. Of course I would stop it. Now what do you mean the company is in danger?”
His father leaned in towards his son across the table. He glanced around to make sure no one could listen. He then gently placed his hand on his wrist. “Son, this mystery you are pursuing holds dire consequences for humanity. It will cast the world into turmoil and destroy. Leave the past alone where the sun can no longer shine upon it.”
Richard looked at Zeus for an instant then back to his dad. “We don’t even know what we are onto yet, how can you be so sure it will be so bad?”
His father nervously looked around again and took another swig from his glass. “I have information from a reliable source, the Nazi’s had technologies that are best left forgotten.”
Richard glared at his father. They had had heated ethical debates in the past. His father takes what was once considered a utilitarian approach now found to not be entirely accurate. He believes in the greatest good, something almost impossible to qualify and quantify, that Richard find works under one circumstance alone, choice. If society makes the choice to kill one man to save a hundred they have committed an ultimate evil. If one man chooses to give his live so that a hundred can live he is a hero. But only that man can choose and no one can choose for him.
His school of thought is that of truth. That through knowledge an educated, informed man will make a rational decision whether it be of self-preservation or the sacrifice for the whole, it is his choice alone. The information based on truth alone can be brought to the man to make a decision but in the end he decides his own fate.
“If the Nazi’s were able to create such a malevolent thing is it not possible for others to simply find it? What of your source? Could they not use these technologies themselves? Could no one else follow the trail of bread crumbs and discover it for themselves?”
“You have found all the bread crumbs, and now I am asking you to destroy them for the sake of the world.”
Richard looked at Zeus again. Anger was burning inside him now. They had risked they lives getting to this point all so they could destroy what little evidence they found and then dream of where it may have taken them. “People have tried to kill us, a guide Richard used in Georgia is lying face down in the swamp, Joe is laying is a hospital.
“They tried to kill you?”
Zeus added, “Yes, multiple times. A sniper took out Hog Bear, a swamp guide, in D.C. men opened up on the Audi with automatic weapons, they attacked us in Moscow, and at a farm house in Germany.”
His father sunk into his chair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Dad, I have to see this through. Whatever dark path it may lead down I need to know the truth. And if what they find is so horrific, such a scourge to humanity then you can surely trust that we will either destroy it or let it lie where it has been buried for the last 70 years.”
His dad saw the gleam that Chosset men get in their eyes. It is a fiery passion passed on through their genetic code. Sr. knew Richard would be unyielding until he accomplished his goal. That neither mountains nor men could stop him from his pursuit. He placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
Zeus choose this moment to step away from the table. He walked through the restaurant and surveyed the patrons. All seemed in order except one table of what appeared to be businessmen. They were dressed in fine Italian suits but one of them made direct eye contact with Zeus. Zeus knew to always go with his gut instinct. The man didn’t appear to just be eyeing the room and made coincidental eye contact. He looked directly at Zeus like he was picking a suspect out of a line up.
Zeus entered the lavatory, then a stall and checked his weapon. He pulled a small caliber machine pistol from the small of his back. He pulled the clip, checked the rounds, and slowly slid it back in place trying the muffle the tell-tale sound. He cocked the weapon and disarmed the safety. He placed it back under his shirt and exited.
Zeus was at the sink when the man he saw at the table entered the bathroom. The man walked over and began washing his hands beside Zeus. Zeus finished and went over to the restroom attendant for a towel. Beside the attendant was a shiny metal air dryer and just as Zeus reached out for the towel he caught a glimpse of the business man coming quickly behind him.
Zeus grabbed the towel from the attendant and flung it at his assailant. The momentary disruption was enough for Zeus to see him holding a syringe. Zeus grabbed the wrist wielding the syringe and stepped behind the man. In a continuous motion he put his knee into the man’s back pushing his body one way and yanking the arm the opposite. The man grunted as his shoulder dislocated from the socket.
While still holding the assassins wrist, Zeus did a quick leg sweep dropping the man face first into the marble floor. The tile flowed red as the man tried to force Zeus off of him. Zeus grabbed the syringe and jammed it into the assailant’s neck.
The man went limp and Zeus began to lift his weight off the body. Then he sprang back to life pushing off the floor with his one good arm. Zeus was completely caught off guard, he assumed the syringe’s contents would work almost instantaneously. Playing possum had worked. Zeus stumbled backward into the wall. In a desperate effort to injure Zeus, the man lowered his good shoulder and charged. The man was running blindly his face covered in blood and the swelling from his broken nose was impairing his vision. A foot before they came together Zeus dropped down the wall onto his bottom. The man slammed into the wall so violently the tile shook on Zeus’ back. The echo from the impact through the man’s skull was grotesque. His body instantly went limp and fell onto Zeus.
Zeus pushed him aside and stood up. The shocked attendant was frozen in place like a deer in headlights. Zeus checked himself in the mirror and dusted himself off. The wall tile was cracked and broken from the impact. Zeus picked the towel off the floor and ran cool water over it. He walked over to the attendant and placed the towel on his head. The old man was in complete shock and Zeus feared he might have a heart attack.
Zeus got his attention from the body and on him. “Sprecken de Deutsch?” The attendant nodded. In German, Zeus told him to take a cigarette break and when he was done call the police. The man nodded in acknowledgement and Zeus helped him to his feet and out the door. On the way out Zeus hung the out of service sign on the door and with the bathroom key he pick pocketed off the attendant locked it.
Zeus quickly crossed the restaurant back to their table. “Gentleman I hate to interrupt but we have unexpected guests. We need to make a hasty exit and try not to draw attention to ourselves.” Zeus dropped three hundred Euros onto the table and pointed them out.
They had to wait a precious few moments for the valet. But it did not matter, Zeus spotted a car full of men parked across the street, he surmised were waiting for them. Just when the Jaguar XFR-S was pulled around the group that had been sitting with the incapacitated man came out.
Richard got behind the wheel, his father in the passenger seat and Zeus in the back. As they pulled out so did the black Audi that was across the street. The Chosset men were looking a bit panicked but Zeus helped ease them down. “We have backup. That table with the hot blonde and brunette, they are part of the security team. Pull up the GPS, I have a route and waypoints preprogrammed.”
As Richard reached for the GPS screen, the Jag was rocked from behind. Richard tried to turn right at the Kultur Casino but the other driver had different plans. He put his foot down putting the Audi’s front end into the Jag’s passenger side quarter panel. His defensive driving skills kicked in and Richard began turning even harder away from the spin.
A second ticked by felt liked minutes, time enough for Richard to realize he was fighting a losing battle. The bigger, heavier, more powerful Audi could easily push the Jag around. They were being shoved head long into the casino’s front door. Pedestrians witnessing the demolition derby began scattering from the streets.
Richard decided not to gamble. He turned the wheel into the pursuit intervention technique being performed. The Jag began spinning like a merry-go-round. They spun around the front of the Audi as the driver slowed to avoid a head on collision. They came around 270 degrees, now facing south the direction the GPS was beckoning them to go but they were staring at the massive broadside of what Richard could now see was the Audi S8.
Richard slammed on the accelerator, all 550 horses tried to burst forth. The all-wheel drive system put all of the power to the pavement. In the first second they were past the Audi. Two seconds later they were on the Kirchenfeldbrucke Bridge linking the Old City to the modern part of Berne. The gunmen didn’t have time to aim their weapons. In the next second the Jaguar was nearing 60 mph.
A second grey Audi was now upon them. Even though the Audi had a smaller horsepower engine the turbocharger could outperform the Jags supercharger by ½ a second. They were right up their backside inches from the bumper. On the far side of the bridge Richard could see two street cars approaching each other. They were seconds from crossing paths. Richard backed off the throttle but the grey S8 bumped them forward. Richard hit the brakes and they opened up with a burst of gunfire that blasted out the rear window. Richard put the throttle down and shot towards the trolleys.
There was a narrow gap between the street cars and the guardrail. Richard waited until the last second and jerked the wheel towards the gap. The Jag banged off the guard rail and bounced back into the street car ripping both side view mirrors off. For a second Richard could see its horrified occupants looking out at them. The Audi tried to follow but being five inches wider it momentarily got wedged between the guardrail and street car. The driver jammed on the brakes to wait as the two street cars passed each other.
It cost them seconds, allowing Richard to get the XFR-S up to 80. They got over the bridge and turned left. Richard glanced in the rear view as the black Audi was coming up on them fast. The tree lined streets were sparse of traffic allowing Richard to keep his foot down. Thirty seconds later they reached a round-about. Richard didn’t hesitate, instead of following the traffic flow he accelerated through the middle of the street car junction.
As they were being chased the rest of Zeus’ security force were on the grey Audi. They caught them just after the bridge and forced them into a lamp post. Then all four security agents got out and unloaded with automatic assault rifles.
The road widened to four lanes but traffic was heavier. Richard had to decrease speed and a few seconds later the black S8 came fish tailing through the round-about. They were approaching the end of the road and an on-ramp to a Swiss highway. To make the turn Richard started hard on the brakes. Zeus tapped Richard on the shoulder, “Stop the car around the bend and let me out, follow the GPS and wait there.”
The Jaguar screeched to a halt leaving a trail of rubber. Zeus jumped out and Richard tore up the ramp a second later. Zeus stood on the zebra stripes waiting for the Audi. He could hear the fire breathing turbo charged engine roaring down the street towards him.
They slowed to make the turn and Zeus opened fire. He emptied the entire clip and reloaded. The Audi swerved wildly towards Zeus. He avoided most of the car except the side view mirror. It crashed into his back knocking him to the ground. The car continued forward slamming into a group of electrical boxes then a cement column. A minute later the security team picked Zeus up and they were gone.
They met up at Grenchen Airport a tarmac nestled in between dozens of farm fields. His father was still crammed into the foot well when the security team pulled into their reserved hangar. Zeus made sure everything from the SUV was taken on board the plane and then oversaw the wipe down of all fingerprints and DNA. He instructed the blonde and one of the men to take care of the cars and get a commercial flight back to UAE.
Zeus opened the door on his father’s side. “Sir, I need to know what they are up against so I can protect you and your family.”
His father caught his breath and climbed back into the seat. “Servije.”
Zeus finished his thought, “Manuel “Matty” Roberto Servije?” His father nodded.
“It has something to do with the Nazi’s, he never went into detail just that it would destroy all the worlds oil and along with it our business. I suspect its some kind of formula that tears the chemical bonds apart.”
“He is a rich powerful man. Is he ruthless enough to try and kill them on three continents?” Zeus asked.
“Servije cares about two things money and making more of it. I don’t think there is anything that would keep him from his pursuit.”
That was all Zeus needed to hear, he helped Chosset Sr. from the car. Richard had never seen his dad so vulnerable. His tall frame and wide shoulders were hunched over. His face was sunken and pale. Zeus practically carried him onto the plane. The two remaining guards accompanied him with Zeus’ explicit instructions, “Take him to the island. Secure the compound, shoot on sight.”
The island Zeus referred to is panama, not the country but the artificial island part of the World Islands in Dubai. It was perfect for conducting business in the Middle East and its unique location added to its security.
Zeus hit the button to open the hangar doors. They watched as the jet taxied out, the tarmac was empty and the tower cleared them for immediate departure. Zeus waited until the wheels were safely off the ground before coming back inside.
“So what’s they plan?” Richard asked.
“We are going to the hospital.”
“When they shot out the window, glass got in his eye.”
Zeus had a rental car waiting at the airport. The hospital was five minutes away but it took six hours to get Zeus fixed up. The doctor first pulled the larger pieces with tweezers and then flushed the eye with a steady stream of water. There was no permanent damage to the eye but the doctors were scarred of scarring. They covered the eye and discharged Zeus. As soon as they were out of the hospital Zeus removed the bandages and in the vanity mirror he taped his eyelids open to prevent him from blinking. At a gas station Zeus bought large, cheap sunglasses to hide his injury.