Little help from friends
Richard awoke in a small bed in a small sparse room. A heavy blanket felt like it was pinning him down. He pulled at it and realized it was not one continuous piece of cloth but mats of moss. He pulled each piece off and placed it in an old metal bucket beside the bed. Just as he finished the young lady who rescued him came into the room.
She yelled out “Mama put some stew on he’s awake.” With the swelling down Richard was finally able to take her whole figure in. Her face looks even younger then she actually is. Her nut brown hair fell halfway down her back and had a nice shine to it even in the middle of a swamp. Her shoulders are wide supporting toned arms probably from manual chores. They came down to a set of perky, b-cup breasts flaring to her hips out giving her sexy curves.
She walked across the room swinging her hips from side to side. She picked up his clothes and dropped them in his lap. “Get dressed you need to eat.” Richard watched as she sauntered back out of the room, the daisy dukes hugging her rear end.
It was a full day since Richard ate and he wasn’t counting the bugs he accidentally swallowed. His clothes were clean and Richard rushed to put them on and follow the girl out the room. The living room and kitchen were open to each other but not in the modern sense. It looked like it was just easier not to put a wall up to separate the two. A skinny old man sat in a decrepit recliner probably older than his granddaughter. He starred into a giant tube TV and without ever turning waved a hand in the air to acknowledge Richard.
A large fat woman with a cherry face smiled at Richard. “Boy you look like your withering away come sit a spell and have some of Ma’s cooking.” She pointed to an ancient wooden dinner table. The floor boards moaned as his weight moved across them.
She placed a bowl in front of Richard and he lapped up the stew. He could taste the gator but had no idea the countless other ingredients nor did he care he was so famished. Richard had three helpings before he noticed the young lady sitting at the table beside him.
“Hi I’m Scarlett Rose. What exactly are you doing in these parts?”
Richard looked her in eyes and said, “That’s not important now. Richard need to get to a phone as soon as possible.” Scarlett looked deep into his eyes. It looked as if she wanted to ask more questions but she held back.
“There’s a phone at Willy’s store in town it will take bout thirty minutes to get there.”
Richard went over to Ma and gave her a big hug. “Thank you for your hospitality.” They broke embrace and Richard waved over at the old man he was never introduced to. Without looking he waved again from his recliner.
Scarlett led Richard out to the pickup and they drove into town. They made small talk mostly about her family on the ride. The grocery store was little more than a few trailers lined up together. Out front was an aged pay phone that was just as rusted and beat up as the Messerschmitt.
From his wallet Richard pulled a calling card. Zeus made them all memorize the secure hard line he set up that linked straight to him. It took a moment for the call to connect and then another moment as the encryption device cycled. A voice came on, “Zeus here.” Hearing his voice sent awash of emotion over Richard. After nearly being killed hearing the voice of a man that would give his own life for Richard was amazingly reassuring.
Richard responded with just a few words, “Meet me in DC.” Zeus didn’t need to ask questions he knew if one of family needed him he had to be there. When he hung up Zeus radioed the hangar. The Gulfstream G650 was one of a few private aircraft that could make the non-stop flight from Dubai to D.C. The cost of one a mere $50 million a drop in the bucket when compared to the $130 million per ship times a fleet of 200. It was a thirteen hour flight time plus an hour of prep and loading it would be after midnight by the time Zeus touched down in DC.
Zeus was a planned tactician. He rushed to the hangar to rows of crates. They were preloaded for a variety of scenarios. Zeus walked up to a crate and pulled a key from around his neck. Each crate had two ways of accessing its contents, a traditional key and an electronic pin. The lid hinged open and Zeus checked its contents.
A pair of semi-automatic rifles, submachine guns, a pair of automatic shotguns, machine pistols, grenades and plenty of extra magazines. He opened a second crate it had plastic explosives, timers, remote detonators, trip mines, magnetic mines, night vision goggles, infrared goggles, digital binoculars, and surveillance equipment. Zeus meticulously went through every item making sure they would operate when needed. When he finished he had two security personnel load them onto the plane. Minutes later he was airborne.
Richard got back in the pickup with Scarlett and thanked her again. He asked her to drive him to a bus stop but she refused. “I ain’t just droppin you at a bus. Where you tryin to go?” Richard could tell she wanted a temporary escape.
“Will this old thing make Savannah?”
Scarlett’s face lit up. “I just gotta tell my brother that I’ll be late for supper.” They drove down the street and stopped at a dilapidated building. The entire structure leaned against a giant pine. The yard in front was full of pine furniture. Scarlett blared the horn, a moment later a frail looking young man came out. His sister had more muscle tone then he did and it looked like he had not eaten in a week. She called out to him, “Tell Ma I’m gonna be late for supper.” He nodded, waved and went back to his wrecked building never asking any questions.
It took two hours to drive around the swamp and get to I-95. Richard had Scarlett avoid going anywhere near Folkston in case anyone was still looking for him. Richard tried to steer the conversation to Scarlett but she wanted to hear all about Richard. She has a fascination with life beyond rural Georgia and delusions of novel romanticism of people’s everyday lives.
Just outside of Savannah Richard had Scarlett pull into a truck stop. She pulled up to a gas pump and Richard jumped out to fill the tank. Scarlett got out to continue talking to Richard. She preened herself and tossed her hair. She grabbed a squeegee from a bucket and leaned across the hood to clean the windshield.
She started on the passenger side, when she leaned over Richard could see she wasn’t wearing a bra. She pressed her body into the hood feigning to strain to reach for the center allowing Richard to see her breasts, knowing he was watching. She came around to the driver’s side to do the same. She kicked one leg out to show the seductive curve of her bottom and her long muscular legs. Richard felt his heart racing then he realized he had overfilled the gas tank and was pouring petrol on the ground.
Richard went over to the attendant and paid for the fuel and notified him of his accident. He went back to the pickup and Scarlett nearly tackled him. She threw her arms around him and gave a kiss on the cheek. Richard took the opportunity to slip a $100 bill into her back pocket. Though his animal instinct yearned to pull her closer and not let her go Richard had to separate himself from her.
A tear rolled down Scarlet’s cheek, Richard grasped her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. He looked her in the eyes and made a promise to her and himself, “I will come back and take you out to a beautiful dinner far from any swamp.”
A smile went across her face and in her southern draw said, “You best not be pulling my leg.”
Richard placed his hand on his heart and an out stretched hand on the pickup. “I swear on your Chevy.” That was more than enough for Scarlett. She threw her arms around Richard again and this time kissed him on the lips.
It was a brief contact between they lips. When they separated Richard walked her to the door and opened it for her. She climbed in and he watched as she drove away. As he waved he hoped it would not be the last time he saw her.
Finding a ride north proved easier than Richard thought. He saw a trailer that had giant lettering “New York Express.” Richard walked up and asked the driver if he was heading north. He said yes and Richard asked if he would like to make an extra $200 cash to drop him in DC. The trucker didn’t hesitate for a moment, he opened the passenger door letting Richard into his truck, business and home.
“Ron Hamer’s the name.” Richard jumped up in the passenger seat and a small, brown and black tabby cat jumped into his lap. “That’s my co-pilot Mack. Found him trying to stay warm in the engine compartment about two years ago and he’s been with me ever since.”
The truck was a massive condo sleeper unit. It had a coffee maker, microwave, a single burner, a small fridge, and two bunk beds. “Mack has one rule bottom bunk is his but he is allowed to go anywhere he wants.” Richard stroked the cat from his head down his back to his tail. He purred acceptingly and plopped down in his lap.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Richard sat shotgun for a few hours with Mack in his lap. Around sundown he asked Ron if he could lie down. The cat sensing his restlessness jumped to the floor. Richard climbed into the bunk bed and promptly fell asleep. He woke up right around the Virginia border. Richard had Ron drop him in Dale City, thanked him and scratched Mack behind his ears.
From there Richard grabbed a taxi the rest of the way D.C. Richard had the taxi drop him on the street outside the family’s DC home butting up against Oak Hill Cemetery. The neighbors were quiet and they never had to worry about the land around them being developed. It was primarily used by his father when he was lobbying or simply reaffirming his political connections. From the street the house looked typical of the area but it was actually a fortress designed his Zeus to withstand a military assault.
The metal perimeter fence stood ten feet and had sharp protrusions on top. At the flick of a switch 10,000 volts could be channeled to thwart any would be attackers. Hidden cameras monitored 360 degrees around the property and each room inside. In the basement an industrial generator supplied by a 1,000 gallon diesel storage tank buried in the back yard if the house were severed from the grid.
The next barrier to any intruder is the house structure itself. The outside walls were made of reinforced concrete each side coated in barrier plastics. A car could drive into the side and a dinner party wouldn’t even know it. The house had plenty of windows with a designed layout of not exposing too much of the ground floor interior from the outside. Plus they were made of bullet resistant glass.
Richard walked up to the gate and placed his thumb on a finger print reader. The property sprang to life with exterior and interior lights. Richard went to the garage and used another fingerprint reader. All three solid steel garage doors raised up revealing three spectacular machines. The first bay is a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 in a mirror paint finish. The 650 horsepower car’s body was so reflective you could shave using one of its panels.
In the center port that had a giant ten foot door stood an armored behemoth, the P4XL Titan in black. It is pretty much a truck designed to be an SUV. It is pure intimidation, with the muscle, armor and repulsive countermeasures to back it. It was used as a show of safety and security in very public displays.
The last car really didn’t seem to fit. It is a station wagon. Compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the other two cars looked like this one did not match up to the naked eye. The Audi RS6 was draped in a dark blue paint. The car had been stripped down and built over from scratch in carbon fiber to lighten it.
The eight cylinder engine with its twin turbos was overhauled to produce in the ballpark of 800 horsepower. To save weight the all-wheel drive system was removed for a lighter rear wheel. The exhaust vented like the SLR just behind the front wheels to again save weight. The power seats were removed for manual adjustable seats. The windows that were in the trunk space were removed to afford greater protection.
The ride height was increased, the shocks, struts and springs all came from an SUV. All of this was barely noticeable because of the extra weight added by the armor system. The sound system was reduced down from ten speakers to six and the six disk changer completely removed. To shed more weight and protect the occupants further the gas tank was removed. The spare tire compartment was converted and down the middle a smaller fifteen gallon tank was sculpted to fit seamlessly under the carpet with a ½-inch fire resistant top. Two separate compartments that were isolated from the fuel tank and accessible from the interior were designed to hold Zeus’s equipment.
All of this was done so to not to draw attention but still afford the protection of armor and speed if needed. The SLR looked and played the part of speed but the estate car didn’t which made it that much more fun to drive.
The keys were in a finger print lock box just beside the door to the house. Richard took the Audi keys and jumped into the driver’s seat. The engine growled to life. Just below the gear shift Richard turned a small knob. On the heads up display it indicated it was running on six cylinders it was more economical and yet another deception to hide the sound that thumped from the side pipes.
Richard pulled down the drive and onto the street and swiped his finger on a spot on the dash, closing the garage doors and front gate. It was thirty minutes to Hyde Field on the outskirts of DC, as long as the President wasn’t on the move locally.
As soon as Richard pulled onto Pennsylvania Ave the devil tempted him. Richard approached a red light. To his right a Corvette pulled up either a Z06 or ZR1, not that it would matter. To his left a Shelby GT 500. The two began revving their engines and inching forward. Richard dialed the Audi back to its full 8 cylinders. Richard waited until he saw the crosswalk lights changing and the lights from the cross street turn yellow.
He put his foot on the gas sending the rpm’s up to 9,000. A burst of flames shot from the pipes and the estate car let out a roar. The other two drivers were so bewildered, they missed the light change. Richard hit the gears in lightning succession leaving the other cars spinning their wheels searching for grip. He made a few lights before catching a red. The Mustang and Vette finally caught up their jaws still hanging. Richard put the car in neutral and hit the accelerator to let out a victorious roar as a carnivore would over a fresh kill. Neither driver responded they knew their store bought hot rods were well out matched.
Richard had showed off enough for one night, this time when the light changed he gracefully pulled off the line dialed back the cylinders and cruised the rest of the way to the airport. He pulled up to a side gate that lead to the private hangers. He showed the guard his badge, who waved Richard through.
Zeus had reserved a small hanger for the jet. The ground crews had already opened the doors expecting the flight in shortly. Richard pulled in and waited about fifteen minutes before he heard the hum of jet engines approaching. The jet taxied into the hanger moments later and a single ground crew came over and shut the doors.
When the stair ramp dropped Richard was waiting at the bottom and bounded up to greet Zeus in the doorway. Richard shook his hand and hugged him. For the past fifteen years Zeus had been employed by his father and he was more of an uncle to Richard than an employee.
They broke embrace and Zeus looked Richard over. “So why have you dragged me half-way around the world?”
“Well I was shot and my guide was killed, and the team and I made two fascinating discoveries.” Richard handed Zeus a small box lined with cloth holding the cigarette case, lighter and pendant. Richard knew Zeus would want every detail so he started at the beginning and gave him every detail he knew as they loaded the crates into the Audi.
Zeus’ first instinct was to get Richard out of the country and to a secure location. But Richard thought the mystery was about to reveal itself. “If we check the National Archives it should give us all the info.”
Zeus glared at Richard from the passenger seat. “I don’t want you exposed.”
“Then let’s get someone else to find what we are looking for. Get me a secure line.”
The phone rang once before a raspy female voice came on. “Hello.”
“Dr. Al, how are you this evening.” Dr. Alyce Veirnes is a brilliant woman. Richard met her as he worked on his undergrad degree and her on her thesis. She went by Al and it suited her short boyish haircut. She had been teaching political science for the past five years at Georgetown.
She wasn’t the best teacher but she loved the inspiration of the capital and the fervor it created. She spent her days mulling about her office and reading newspapers. She taught the minimum amount of classes and let her TA’s do most of the heavy lifting. By night Al took to chain smoking and reading and writing blogs. She hardly slept which she made sure everyone knew and proclaimed that was why she was perpetually cranky.
“Well if it isn’t his favorite commie.” Richard had once written a paper on Karl Marx. It was meant as a critical analysis of Marxist ideology, the good and bad, mostly bad. Al forever associated Richard with it.
“I need your help. I need three students to do a little paid research for me. I can’t discuss it over the phone just have them meet me in front of the National Archives at ten minute intervals starting at 11am. I’ll owe you dinner at Vidalia.”
It wasn’t the first time Richard had a strange request for Al. The company often used her as a political advisor. Her savvy and connections came in handy a number of times and it didn’t hurt that she could meticulously scruple information and provide detailed reports on politics and policy.
The next day at 11 sharp the first collegian showed. She was still a teenager awkwardly growing into herself. Richard handed her a manila folder and told her Richard needed every piece of information pertaining to the USCGC Lewis Morris. The next student had to find the info on Flight 19 and the last everything pertaining to the Messerschmitt Me-262.
All of this was most likely a dead end. These records had been poured through, if something of significance or extraordinary were there it would be known. They had all the details about Flight 19 and the Morris. The Messerschmitt could be they only hope, except for in the waning hours of World War II the Germans destroyed many of their records and what was left was claimed by whichever occupying Ally arrived first.
Zeus and Richard went a block down to a café to wait, Zeus refusing to leave his side. Zeus may have seemed paranoid but he knew the capabilities of motivated people. The students could have sent the information from their laptops but Zeus was afraid of anything that might be traceable. So Richard supplied them with thumb drives.
They sat at a table against the window and ordered two coffees. Just outside the window was a pay phone which was becoming more and more unusual to see in this modern age. The manila folders Richard had given out not only had the subjects to research but how it should be presented and then instructions on how he would retrieve it.
Each student was to call the number provided to the pay phone outside the café and let it ring five times before hanging up. Zeus had tested the phone and it could be easily heard at the two window seats in the café. As a backup Zeus planted a microphone under the phone and had an earpiece to listen in.
It took the students most of the afternoon to complete their appointed tasks. The student with Flight 19 finished first, then Me-262 and the Morris. Back at the café they began searching through the files. Flight 19 read exactly as Archie had told it to Richard with no new info. They got tons of specs on the Messerschmitt, its creators and facilities in Germany. The big surprise came from the subject Richard thought he knew best, the USCGC Morris.
The whole of the ships history didn’t match up to anything Richard had been told. His family had told Richard the ship was built in the shipyards of Philadelphia and spent its entire life in the Atlantic until her sinking on December 18, 1945. The official records showed the boat built in Boston put through her sea trials in the Atlantic and then once commissioned designated for assignment in the Pacific. There was a list of engagements the Morris had participated, then finally its demise in Typhoon Cobra on December 18, 1944 when Admiral Halsey sent the entire 3rd Fleet steaming into the storm despite the danger.
Richard looked at Zeus and spun the swivel screen so he could read what he did. He knew the story and they had both read his grandfather’s letters which he always dated and marked the latitude and longitude where it was written. Richard assumed his original intention was so the letters could be followed when he was out to sea on a map. Zeus spoke without looking up, “Either your grandfather was mistaken which ocean he was in or these records are not accurate, the latter seeming much more likely.”
“So who would be able to change history and more importantly why?” They made eye contact and decided these were questions that could not be answered in a coffee shop. Zeus and Richard made their way to the parking garage across the street from the Archives where they left the Audi.
They paid the attendant and pulled out onto 7th Street and never saw the SUV pull out of a metered spot on the street behind them. It wasn’t until they turned onto Massachusetts Ave and Richard began weaving in and out of traffic that Zeus noticed they were being tailed.
He told Richard to check two cars back at the big black SUV. It was a Range Rover with tinted windows and no way to tell how many occupants it had. Unsure if it was paranoia, Zeus wanted to be certain. He told Richard to cut the car off next to Richard and make a left turn and floor it. They made the light and the SUV was left still pulling up the street.
Zeus had Richard zig zag a few blocks until pulling onto M Street. Right when they did the Range Rover appeared again. There was no way it was coincidence they must have planted a tracking bug on the car. At the next traffic light Zeus pulled a signal jammer out of his bag of tricks.
Zeus turned the blocker on and when the signal stopped being received by the Range Rover, they went from passively following to aggressively tailing. They no longer had buffers between them, a few times Richard thought they might even rear end them.
When they came to the bridge over the Rock Creek River and the parkway named after it the Rover suddenly shot in front of them. Traffic was heavy and they immediately came to a stop. Then three men all dressed in black jumped out of the car, each carrying a submachine gun. Before Zeus could say a word Richard had the car in reverse and the accelerator pinned to the floor.
The men opened up with short bursts that ricocheted into surrounding vehicles. Richard instinctively ducked as Richard heard the thuds against the body armor and windshield. Zeus yelled at Richard to sit up just as Richard hit the car behind. The Audi had no problem pushing the car into the intersection. It causes an immediate jam and cuts off all escape. The armed men are jogging at them still putting bursts of fire on the car but Richard could tell they were aiming at the engine and tires in hope of crippling them.
Richard through the shifter into second and the engine thundered as Richard hoped the curb and tore forward almost running over one of the assailants. In the rear view Richard could see the men piling back into the Rover and following. As soon as the bridge ended Richard made a right hand turn onto a walking path. Richard followed the path for a moment before Richard saw a break in the trees leading down to the parkway. Richard blasted through some bushes and was momentarily airborne as they came down a small hill.
The Audi smashed through a wooden barrier that that splintered like chopsticks. Cars around Richard scattered all over the roadway. The parkway was an undivided four lane road. The Range Rover followed behind but was forced to take the hill straight down to avoid rolling. The Rover crashed through the barrier and T-Boned an unsuspecting car sending it into the north bound lanes.
Rush hour traffic was unforgiving Richard was forced onto the grassy shoulder where the 4x4 had the advantage. Zeus had already pulled one of the hidden pistols from a compartment behind the door speakers when they heard the crackle of automatic fire again. In the mirror Richard could see the distinct muzzle flash from M16’s firing from the Rover’s rear windows. The men had upgraded to penetrate they defenses but were not yet successful. Enough strikes in one area would eventually compromise they defenses.
The run-flat tires were serving their worth. Suddenly the back window splintered badly. The gunman sitting shotgun was firing a hand cannon that Richard could only fathom was a Desert Eagle. Another hit or two from the .50 caliber bullets and the window would be gone and the inside of the car would turn bullets into pinballs.
Zeus put the window down and screamed, “Pull onto the road and keep it straight for a few seconds!” Richard did as told, Richard straightened the wheel the ride smoothed out and Richard heard Zeus firing the Glock 21. He let a three round burst slam into their windshield blinding them momentarily. The .45 caliber did not have the power of the Desert Eagle but its effects on an unarmored vehicle would be much more devastating.
These men were trained professionals. The Range Rover stayed in a straight line as the gunner in the front kicked out the windshield. They returned fire and Richard swerved the car across lanes. Richard straightened out for a moment to let Zeus fire another six rounds. Richard could see the driver duck and the gunman behind him drop his rifle onto the road.
Zeus had inadvertently made it easier for them, the Desert Eagle and the remaining M16 opened up again shooting straight through where their windshield had been. Now they could fire without leaning out vastly improving their accuracy. Zeus fired the remainder of his clip and jumped into the back seat. The seat flipped up and Zeus pulled out a XM26 grenade launcher. It was actually a prototype that Zeus was testing for the manufacturer.
On the side he selected the ordnance he wanted to fire climbed into the trunk and took aim. Zeus fired a single round, it arced slightly before bouncing into the backseat of the Rover. It took a second for the flare to ignite and the car burst into a bright red glow. The flare distracted them from shooting and gave Zeus time to fire the next shot. The smoke grenade was doing its work before it ever reached its target. The grenade hit the gunman with the Desert Eagle in the chest. It probably was not lethal but it definitely would break some ribs.
The grenade filled their cabin with smoke and the Rover had no choice but to give up pursuit. Richard let out a gasp for air as Zeus climbed back into the front seat. Zeus had Richard continue up the road until he thought there was enough of a safe distance to pull over. He took over driving so Richard could settle his nerves.
Zeus had Richard temporarily disable the blocker so they could make a call. He took out his phone and dialed. The first was to one of his friends at the FBI. The phone rang once before a grainy voice came on, “Associate Deputy Director Molina.”
Zeus cut straight to the point. “It’s Z, I need you to send some guys to Rock Creek Parkway right by M Street.”
Molina answered before Zeus finished, “There’s already a team on the way. Were you involved in this?”
Zeus gave Molina the breakdown of the chase and who Richard was, leaving out the details of the fact gathering and the previous discoveries.
Molina’s response was immediate, “So do you think it was a kidnapping or an assassination attempt?”
Zeus hesitated a moment and looked over at Richard. “I couldn’t tell you for sure. All I know is they are trained and bold.”
While still on the line Molina got another call. He cut out for a moment and came right back, “They have the SUV it’s torched, no suspects.”
Zeus came back immediately, “I’ll call you back tomorrow.” He hung up and quickly dialed another number. When it connected Richard could hear there was no response on the other end. Zeus simply said, “Richard need to buy a car, be there in a forty minutes.” He hung up and had Richard turn the jammer back on.
Twenty minutes later Zeus pulled into a used car dealership and mechanic shop in Silver Spring. There was an open bay door at the garage that was lit by a single mechanics lamp. Zeus pulled straight in and as he pulled the parking brake as someone triggered the door to close. They got out and a figured stepped out of the darkness to turn the lamp off.
The dark figure pulled out a tiny LED flashlight and led them to a tiny office. He turned the light on and embraced Zeus. “Always in trouble aren’t you boss?” He was taller than Zeus with blonde hair. He is broad shouldered and his hands were worn and beaten. Down his right cheek is a noticeable scar and with his sleeves rolled up Richard could see an assortment of tattoos mixed with more scars.
He shook his hand but said nothing to Richard. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme around Zeus. Immediate offers of help and little or no questions asked. The shadow world of covert affairs had unwritten codes especially as many of these men owed their lives to each other and vice versa.
Zeus and the man never spoke each other’s names. They shared minimal information but Richard could see in their eyes that they recalled countless memories both good and terrible, heart wrenching and tragic and still a bond among soldiers, among friends, among brothers.
Zeus gave some information on the ordeal they went through. “The car took a beating, it’s got a bug on it, jammer is in the front seat. Can you get it fixed up? And we are going to need to a truck.” The man said nothing he just motioned to follow him.
In a box hanging outside the office he grabbed a key and they followed him outside. He led them to a rusty 2 door Mazda Navajo 4x4. It looked like a hunk of junk. The man opened the door and started the truck up, the engine growled to life without a hesitation. He popped the hood and the three of them stood staring at a spotless engine compartment. The engine looked out of place, the typical under powered 160 horsepower engine was replaced with an identically sized hot rod engine.
Zeus and Richard got in and drove the truck to a second bay the man had opened. The door closed and they began unloading the crates from the Audi to the Mazda. There was just enough room in the trunk for the pair and the man gave them a military canvas to cover them.
Zeus hugged him and said he would return the truck when they were done. They looked at each other and the man said, “In the same condition?”
Zeus chuckled, “I make no guarantees.”
The garage opened and they took off without looking back. Zeus took John Hanson Highway to the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge. It took four hours to cross the Delmarva Peninsula and reach Virginia Beach. Richard fell in and out of sleep until they got off the highway. Zeus threaded his way through the tourist town down to False Cape State Park. The road ended at the park but that didn’t stop Zeus.
He pulled the truck onto the beach and flipped the headlights off. Zeus continued south using only the half-moon to light his way. The beach ran into the tiny northern extremity of Corolla, North Carolina. It was the closest most isolated place Zeus could think to lie low. There were no actual roads they were dirt and sand tracks that were only navigable by four wheel drive vehicles.
Zeus pulled up to a modest house away from most of the others on the bay side. Exhausted they left the crates in the truck and went to the front door. It had a rag tag looking mud room that lead to the front door. The screen door was unlocked. The second door was a bit more formidable, it was solid steel, behind the mailbox a concealed retinal scanner.
Zeus placed his chin on the device and the door mechanically swung open inviting them in. “This is a Justice Department safe house. They only use it for high profile cases and one of the perks of retirement is Richard still have access to a few places.”
Richard looked at Zeus and cocked his head sideways and gave him a little smirk, “Guess they don’t get around to updating their access files.”
They walked into an open concept living room and kitchen. Richard dropped onto a micro fiber couch and stared up at the ceiling. Zeus emptied his pockets onto a round table. He dropped his pistol, two magazines, a six inch blade and a hand grenade. He sat down and rubbed his eyes.
“We know these guys are professionals, are well equipped and not afraid to use their muscle. So who can they be?”
Richard pulled himself up and looked over at Zeus. “Have you ever heard of anything like this here?”
“Yeah, in gang wars.”
“So are they a security force or government?”
Zeus stopped rubbing his eyes to look at Richard. “If it’s a security team who is pulling their strings and if its government which agency and which government?”
With the little information they had they were not going to solve any of the mysteries tonight. Richard laid back down on the couch and closed his eyes. Zeus fell asleep right where he sat.
The next morning Richard woke to a few sun beams sneaking through the cracks in the blinds. Richard found Zeus in a back room with no windows. Flat screens decorated the walls and there were two computer work stations. Zeus sat at one tapping away at the keyboard.
Without turning Zeus began speaking. “The Morris and Flight 19 are dead ends. We have all the info we can dig up here. They need to get into the Messerschmitt’s mystery. There is no info on a sea plane conversion or how it got in that swamp.”
“If the U.S. files don’t have the info the others guys will. They former Allies were good at keeping records and their contemporaries have even started digitizing all of the files. Unfortunately not all of the 100 million documents have been uploaded. From the files that are accessible online I am confident they have more on they topic. So pack your bags we are going to Russia.”