Retta came back through the hole in the ceiling. Davic’s bed was set so that his head was angled away from the door. “Good Morning, Davic,” she said setting a tray of food down beside him. “I thought you’d like some breakfast.”
The men had already come to see to his morning needs. And he supposed he was hungry. It was hard to tell since he couldn’t feel his abdomen or his insides. He was thirsty, had been for quite a while.
When he didn’t answer, Retta slid the necklace down so he could talk.
“Where are we, Retta?” he asked.
She frowned slightly and look down, toward the food. “They won’t let me say much, so don’t ask. They’ll punish me.”
Davic looked to where she was pointing and saw a bruise on the side of her jaw.
“Okay, but just tell me. It smells like YnS. Is that where we are?”
“Don’t ask me, Davic!” she slapped his arm. It probably left a red mark, but Davic didn’t feel anything. Then she put her hand in his field of vision and, using American Sign Language, she spelled out; “No, but close.”
She then took a fork and cut off a bit of Breakfast Burrito and put it in his mouth. The taste was divine. He chewed it carefully and swallowed, She then fed him a bite of scrambled eggs just like he always ordered it. The cheese puffed the eggs up, making them lighter and fluffier. Just the way he liked them.
He really didn’t have time to talk as Retta carefully and gently kept his mouth full of the types of breakfast foods they’d shared. The bacon was next. She wrapped one strip around itself and tucked a whole piece into his mouth.
“This is good!” he said through the food. “So good!” Next came a sip of orange juice. She had to tilt his head up to keep it from spilling out the corners of his mouth.
He finished chewing the last bite of whole wheat toast with blackberry preserves when the door banged open and a rough voice called: “Retta, get up here before I come down there and smack your head against the stone wall!”
She wiped Davic’s mouth and stood. “I’m coming, putting the plates on the tray, now.”
She lifted the dirty dishes and said: “Be careful, Davic.” Then she left and the door banged shut.
The furniture was the same from the old compound, Louis XIV table, and chairs. Only now the room matched. The curtains and the wallpaper were Louis XIV as well.
“I like our new digs, Boss!” said Solomon.
“The old one was so dusty and, well, it had dirt floors and this one has marble.” That summed up the move in the mind of their Boss.
He replayed the images of the destruction of Mesa Verde. “That’s the last tie we have to Keith Johnson. All we have left is to kill him and take the Motu.”
“Yes, Father,” said Jolene sitting close at hand. She was always the one nearest to him and the others were further down the table. Only Solomon had as close a connection to her Father as she did. And he sat facing her on her father’s left-hand side.
“And it’s good to rid ourselves of that silly Zuni name, too,” he said, “Yalun né Siana,” He made a disparaging noise with his lips. The words were bitter as he said them. “With the cliff dwelling destroyed, there is no trace of our subservience to that weak old man. But this mansion,” he raised his arms and looked around the top of the room. “it’s worthy of us!”
His sycophants smiled and cheered. “Jolene, how close are we to getting that information?”
“Retta is playing her part well. It shouldn’t take long.”
“In the meantime, we’ll take care of old Keith.”
“I can stay longer, Davvy,” she said, sitting at his side. “I begged them to let me stay here rather than just set in my cell.
She touched his cheek below his eye and ran her finger around the whorl of the shell of his ear. “I’ve missed you so much.” She kept her hand near his face feeling the warmth of his skin.
He turned his eyes toward her and saw only the side of her face. “I want to move my head so I can see you better.”
She placed her hand on his forehead and turned his head her way. He had a much better view.
“Thank you, Retta. I’ve missed you, too. Tell me how they got you and brought you here. Where are we again?”
“I can’t tell you that, you know.” She smiled sadly. “How have your studies been?”
“You wanna talk studies when we’ve been gone so long?”
“No, I just want to hear your voice. It doesn’t matter what you talk about.”
He began with the assignment to save the kid in Wyoming and then reminded Retta about the session in Johnson’s kiva where everyone discussed their performance. She reminded him of her grades and he reminded her about standing on the roof of the Kiva and her pasting him right in the face.
“That black eye was the talk of the school!” he laughed. “You should have seen how big and black it was.”
“Oh, I heard!” she said. “Zoë told me.”
“Zoë?” he asked. “Not Candie?”
Retta turned the salmon colored crystal back one tenth of a turn.
“Oh, I heard!” she said. “Candie told me!”
“Candie! Candie! I always thought she worked for LeDuc.”
“Yeah,” agreed Retta too quickly, turning the crystal to its former position.
Bis sa’ani was an oddity according to archaeologists. It was much larger than the Small House communities and very much smaller than the average Great House. It was built almost all at once, over ten years rather than over a hundred and fifty like some of the other ruins. And it was roughly ten miles from the Core of the Chaco Canyon Great Houses. It was perched, all alone, on the top of a clay hill and before Johnson restored it, it was a pile of stones spreading down the hillside.
Johnson had converted it to his primary residence; he raised his five children here. A permanently opened portal joined the two halves of the building, East, and West. There was also a small building almost like a kiva on a nob at the very eastern end of the hill that Johnson had converted to a library. Since his wife had passed away almost half a decade earlier, he spent nearly all of his time here. The rest of the house was on automatic cleanup and remained largely empty of human visitation.
A beep on his wrist crystal informed him that he had visitors. He walked from the Knob Library to the Rabbit House portion of the Eastern House, on to the part known as Casa Quemada, and then to South House where guests portaled in.
It was Eric LeDuc, his daughter Jolene, and his top henchman Solomon that stood in the open air kiva. Johnson had left it as a porch of sorts for his guests to portal onto.
“Eric,” he said. “What an unexpected visit. How might I help you?” His words were not friendly. He touched the lintel of the door frame, his right hand raised. Suddenly his the guests rose in the air, suspended. He extended his arm and the trio floated backward until their legs hung over the edge of the wall, one hundred or one fifty feet above the rock-strewn valley floor.
“I must ask you to leave, my friend, you and your colleagues.”
“But we’ve come so far!” said LeDuc, levitating a boulder of considerable girth and throwing it at his nemesis.
Johnson flicked his fingers in a languid gesture and the boulder bounced back at the attacking trio.
There was a faint blue ripple in the air as Jolene created an In-Concert link with the two men. They landed lightly and headed for the elderly professor. LeDuc sang an eerie two tone Tibetan chant that growled and wailed at the same time. Johnson suddenly seemed to hang limply, rather than stand.
LeDuc gestured with his ample eyebrows to Solomon and the attendant took a hold of Johnson’s arms, pulling them back behind him. “To the library, straight on and to the right.”
As they walked the thirty or so feet through the Eastern House, retracing the steps the owner had only just finished, LeDuc began to talk to his daughter. “It was here that I was banished to that horrid ruin in Colorado. Sent away from friends and family to run a dead end adjunct. So, it’s fitting that here is where it also comes to an end.”
They reached the portal to the library and stepped through. Solomon pushed Johnson into the same chair he’d vacated and activated an override that bound the Professor there.
“Eric,” he asked in a voice so level and kind that you’d think he was asking which type of drink his friend would want to accompany his steak and potatoes. “Why are you doing this? You know the more you force them, the more they will oppose you.”
“I am through discussing with you!” the shorter gentleman said, anger mounting in his voice. “I have tried for years to communicate my displeasure at your treatment, but you never listen to me.”
“I am now,” he said moving his left foot up toward the bottom of the chair and kicking a small crystal button there. “Tell me what it is that you have in mind, I will listen.”
“You’re only listening because you know I can kill you in an instant!”
“Well, there is that. But why?”
“NO! You always could burrow into my mind and scramble my thoughts!” He took a small, black crystal from a pocket in his Jedi robes. He held it up and watched the light glisten from its facets. Then suddenly he placed it on Johnson’s forehead with one hand and slammed the open palm of his other onto it until it cut into the skin. He then tapped it three times and wiggled his fingers. The crystal glowed with sharp reflections. The Professor’s face went slack and his body went rigid.
“Come,” he said to his entourage. “His men are coming to get us.”
Solomon opened a portal and they left as the beeping sounded more arrivals.
Retta was happy, Davic had given her the chant that could move the moon. “Sing that one more time?” Retta cried happily.
“Well, there are arm movements, too. I really need to show you those as well.”
“You could show me those later!” she laughed her bright amused-because-she-was-amused laugh.
Davic sang the ancient Rapanuian chant again. “Now you have to sing it for me!′ he said with a happy smile. “And the pitch is part of it. So, it has to be good! You remember the tune?”
“Yes, of course!” she smiled and sang: ”Wawahi , koutou tioata ! Wawahi !!”
An immense explosion blew Retta backward, her head hitting the stone wall. The crystals on the necklace around Davic’s neck and the huge salmon colored one behind his head all shattered as they were bid to do so by the Rapanuian language Mana Chant.
Intense waves of feeling shot from Davic’s neck to his toes. Every cell between the two had a sharp stab of pain, heat, cold and pressure. He stood up none-the-less and, wearing just his open-backed hospital gown, crawledup the ladder. He pushed the door opened and found himself in the bottom of a strange Anasazi tower built on a thirty-foot boulder, in a valley devoid of other signs of humanity.
Finally, with his mana sense restored, he threw down a shaky spike and created a portal to the Institute.