“So, we are in agreement then?” Zeus asked the twins. He had caught them finishing up a work-out in the gym.
“Absolutely!” Anthony said quickly. Then he looked sheepishly at his sister.
“Yes, we agree,” Jaida added, “we will be the core of the new free-lance warlock corps authorized by the Canadian Prime Minister.”
“We’ll need a new name. Something to distinguish us from the regular warlocks,” Anthone added.
“Oh my gosh!” Jaida exclaimed. “You’ve wanted to pick your own name ever since you became a warlock. This isn’t like being a super-hero, this is real Anthony.”
“Well, it’s just that, well, warlocks sound kind of evil to me and we’re the good guys!” Anthony responded.
“What about the Angel Corps?” Oz interjected.
They all turned around to see the little man standing right behind them. The twins were both mystified and irked they never heard him come in the room. Only Zeus was unaffected. He’d learned to accept the ancient little man’s stealthy ways, long ago.
“I like it,” Zeus started, “Angel Corps definitely sounds like the good guys and from now on, we’ll decide who goes on the Angel List, not the Shifter Council or the Warlock Council.”
“Neither council is going to like that, especially the Shifter Council,” Jaida added.
“No, they’re not, but they’ll get used to it. They should have warned us about the attack. Now they’ll have to earn back our trust. Besides it will give us a bargaining chip,” Zeus answered.
The three master warlocks just nodded their heads at the announcement.
“Zeus, Dr. Connors is here to see you,” Oz announced.
“Why don’t you two tag along, it’s time you met the premier forensic computer scientist in the world,” Zeus said as he headed for his office.
As soon as all the introductions were done, Dr. Connors got straight to the point.
“Zeus, I need to talk to you in private. It’s urgent,” he said.
“Anything that needs to be said, can be said in front of these two, they are my new partners and Jaida will soon be my wife,” Zeus answered.
Dr. Connors was surprised but agreed to Zeus’s request.
“I’ve got the location of Grace’s lab, she’s in Europe, in Hungary to be exact,” the doctor explained.
With the news everyone got excited. There were several questions thrown at him at once, but it was Zeus’s that he answered.
“How did you manage to get that out of those files? I thought they were in a code you couldn’t crack?” Zeus asked.
“Not a code, an encryption, two very different things. Anyway, I didn’t get the information for you, it came from another source,” Dr. Connors explained.
Suddenly, all three of the warlocks were suspicious. None of them trusted anonymous sources. They almost always ended up being either false or a trap. Dr. Connors could tell by the look on their faces that they were no longer excited about his news.
“Wait, it’s as reliable as we’ll get in the way of information. I received a message that used an old encryption code from twenty years ago. It intrigued me because only an old spy would do such a thing. Here it is,” he said as he handed the note over to Zeus. The master warlock read it out loud.
Come immediately to the coordinates listed below. Enter the village at night and dress as modern-day gypsy and join our troupe. Have found Grace’s lab but need help eliminating security team of shifters. Must be here within seventy-two hours.
46.8709 Lat 16.1613 Long
“Who’s Pierre?” asked Jaida.
With a big smile on his face, Zeus explained about his old friend.
“I thought he was dead, at least that’s what he wanted me and everyone else to think. He must have used some ruse to fake his death and go undercover, that old dog! I wonder how he found out about the lab?” asked Zeus.
“I’ve already looked up the coordinates, it’s in the middle of nowhere, but close to everywhere,” Dr. Connors explained.
“Judging by the latitude and longitude, it must be in Hungary, near the Slovenia border,” Jaida added.
“My dear you never cease to impress,” Zeus said proudly.
“Showoff!” Anthony teased. “How could you possibly know those coordinates off the top of your head?”
“High school geography…or was it middle school geography? Not sure, but one of those required us to learn the basic locations of all the countries of the world. Don’t you remember, we took the class together?” Jaida chided.
“I remember you got an A and I failed,” Anthony responded.
Ignoring the two twins, Zeus had a question for Dr. Connors.
“How long would it take you to be packed for a three-day trip to Europe?” Zeus asked.
“Me? Why would I be going to Europe?” the doctor replied.
“Well, if you’re going to be part of the Angel Corps, you’ll have to travel sometimes. After all, we are an international agency,” Zeus explained.
“What’s the Angel Corps?” the doctor asked.
“Oz will explain, I have to pack,” Zeus said.
With that, he and Jaida bounded up the stairs like school children. Leaving Anthony to just stare after them. Then he followed to begin his own packing. Oz sat the doctor down and began explaining the idea of the free-lance warlock-like group that would be known as the Angel Corps. After a few minutes of consideration, he asked a question.
“Will I be allowed to serve both the Warlock Council and the Angel Corps?” he asked.
“I can see no reason why not, both organizations can use your services, and both would benefit greatly from them. I can assure you that Zeus will have no objection,” Oz answered.
“Then I will speak with Jason at the Warlock Council and if he has no objections, then I will join the Angel Corps on this mission. I’m still not sure what they think I can do with a group of shifters?” Dr. Connors said.
“My dear doctor, Zeus is giving you the chance of a lifetime. He has no need for your help where shifters are involved, it’s after they have been eliminated that he will need you. The lab that is producing our next version of Miss Grace, is perhaps even further advanced than your own. No doubt Zeus will want you to get your hands on it before they destroy it, so it can never be used for that purpose ever again,” Oz explained.
Suddenly, all the possibilities were swimming through Dr. Connors’ mind. The little man was right, the computing power required to clone and bring a fully formed adult into the world would dwarf even the computers he had built. To get his hands on those…better yet, to cannibalize the lab and take what he could salvage. The computers, mainframes and data storage capabilities of the lab could be one of a kind and priceless! Oh yeah, the doctor was definitely going to Hungary.
The doctor left the compound in a hurry. He wanted to speak with Jason Friend and get packed. He had been told to meet the rest of the team at the Vancouver International Airport in four hours. A private jet would be taking them to Hungary tonight. He would have to move quickly to make it.
Jaida was taking a shower when Oz called Zeus out into the hall.
“What are your plans for Gabriel and Breena?” Oz asked.
“I hadn’t thought that far yet, I guess I plan to ask them to join the Angel Corps. Why?” Zeus responded.
“As much as I don’t want you to face the new Miss Grace without him at your side, I don’t believe he’s ready. We don’t know what will happen if he’s pushed to the breaking point again. We both know that if you’re taking on the White Alpha, you should plan for the worst,” Oz answered.
Both men had been to see Gabriel twice since he regained consciousness. Gabriel seemed to be his old self, except now he was much calmer. It was like he had matured several decades since returning from being a dragon. Nobody wanted to test him and see what he might become the next time. Seeing his dragon form once, was more than enough for everyone involved.
Leonidas still bore the scars from the dragon’s tongue as it slithered across his neck. Even the unshakable Oz had been amazed at the power of the beast. There was nothing like it in the universe. The more it killed and devoured, the stronger it got. His kind would never admit it, but they were afraid and confused about what to do, or even what they could do.
Their code prevented them from interfering with the inhabitants of this dimension, but they also didn’t want to allow the planet or the universe to fall prey to the beast. The dragon had no known weakness. They might be able to be contained by a black hole or the inner core of a star, but even that wouldn’t kill one. They truly were indestructible. After seeing Oz and the rest of Gabriel’s family help to turn him back into a human once more, Oz had been recalled to his home dimension.
At first, he was afraid he was in trouble. He had not killed the White Alpha directly, but his actions had surely impacted the outcome. Some would even say he was responsible. However, once he was in front of his mother and the Galactic Council, not a word was said about what had happened in the gym. Instead, all questions were about Gabriel.
Who was he? Where did he get the ability to transform into a dragon? Would he return to that form, or was he ‘cured’?
They were all important questions, but few that Oz could answer. In the end, he was giving an assignment to return to Earth and to keep an eye on Gabriel for as long as either of them continued to live. If it had been any of the others of his kind it would have been a prison sentence. They were constantly traveling among the infinite dimensions and couldn’t stand to be in any one place too long. But not Oz. It was better than he could have ever hoped for, at least under these circumstances.
For Oz it was simple, if the Scythians didn’t know if Gabriel would ever become a dragon again, then no one did. Leonidas had traveled back to Mongolia to see if their scrolls had any information that might help them to understand. He should be back any day now.
“We’re going to leave this mission to the four of us. We won’t involve Gabriel, Apollo or Breena yet,” Zeus started, “I plan on this being a reconnaissance mission only. I’m not sure why Pierre wants us there so quickly, but we’re not planning on taking on the White Alpha unless there is no other choice. If possible, we’ll destroy her lab and steal as much of her equipment and money as we can. We’ll take care of those shifter security guards for Pierre and then once we know she can’t be re-born, we’ll hunt down Miss Grace Stevens and end this once and for all.”
Just the thought of meeting up with the White Alpha again had them all shuddering. The power and savageness of the creature would have sent all but the greatest warlocks running for their lives. Even Anthone was quite shaken at the thought of another encounter with the beast, but he’d never admit it.
I hope you can get in and out without an incident, but with Miss Grace, you always have to be ready for problems,” Oz added.
“Then let’s be ready for anything,” Zeus said.
Zeus returned to packing for the mission and Oz went to the control room to notify the Prime Minister of Zeus and the twin’s decision. It would be important that the group be afforded the same immunity given to diplomats and warlocks. He wanted to make sure that from now on the government referred to Zeus and his corps as angels, not warlocks.
Meanwhile, Dr. Connors had met briefly with Jason and explained he wanted to work for both groups, the warlocks and the angels. Jason didn’t like it, but he couldn’t afford to lose Dr. Connors too, not after losing Zeus and any chance of the Americans. With no other choice he agreed.
Jason couldn’t help but wonder what Thomas and the others had been thinking when they openly accused Zeus of being a murderer and a traitor? He had been brought in from eastern Canada to try to piece the Vancouver/western Canadian Warlock Council back together. So far, he wasn’t doing very well.
Dr. Connors was pleased with Jason’s answer. Now to get ready for his first mission with the angels. He was already home packing, or at least trying to. What did one take on a mission to destroy a lab? After a few deep breaths, the doctor steadied himself. His job was computers, not destroying anything and definitely not dealing with shifters. So, he grabbed tools, some meters, cables and everything he might need to dismantle a super-computer. He added a few cans of nitrogen and his own, personal version of the vest he made for Zeus. It didn’t have any silver tipped spikes, but it did have quite a few surprises of its own.
It was fashioned after a popular outdoor style wool fleece vest. It was black to match most types of clothing. He had already loaded the inside secret pockets with passports, money and credit cards. Then he made sure the vest had a full charge. The electronics built into the vest required quite a bit of power.
The same went for the ink pen left by his father, the one he used to take off Thomas’s hand. In the past two months he had managed to strengthen the batteries, so he could get two shots before they were depleted. He also designed a “quick exchange magazine” as he called it, that allowed him to replace the power cells in less than three seconds. With three additional battery packs he was fully armed and ready to go. He had just one medium sized carry-on bag and most of what was in it was tools and equipment. He might not be fashionable this trip, but he would be functional.
With everything packed, Dr. Connors called for a cab and was told one could be there in less than five minutes. Glancing at his watch, the doctor saw he should at the airport with plenty of time to spare. He was both excited and apprehensive. Working with three of the greatest warlocks…or angels…the name change was going to take a while, could have its own challenges.
He would be working with three of the best fighters and hunters in all the world. That was the exciting part. He would be in danger and he wasn’t able to handle shifters the way the other three could. One mistake and it could cost him his life. He was also worried about being able to make a big enough contribution. He didn’t want to be in the Angel Corps unless he could find a way to pull his own weight.
When he got to the airport, he was surprised to see the size of the plane. He had expected a small jet, possibly something with twin engines on it. Instead, he found a corporate 737, complete with all the luxuries one could want, waiting on the tarmac. He checked the hanger number to make sure he hadn’t stopped at the wrong plane.
He didn’t have long to wait. As he stood there, a black limo arrived and out climbed Zeus and the twins.
“Hope we haven’t kept you waiting long,” Zeus said to the doctor.
“Not at all, I just arrived myself. Is this really the plane we’re taking to Europe?” Dr. Connors asked.
“Yes, is there a problem?” said Zeus.
“No, no problem at all. I was just expecting a…well…something smaller,” Dr. Connors exclaimed.
“Don’t get used to it,” Zeus began, “I have a friend who appreciates my keeping his son off the warlock’s angel list. He makes this available when its not in for maintenance or otherwise being used by the corporation he owns.”
As the four new “angels” boarded the plane, they were greeted by a crew of five. Two pilots and a flight engineer and two flight attendants. Zeus took up a seat in the back right of the plane on a small loveseat with Jaida curled up next to him. Dr. Connors stayed near the front and asked if he could keep his laptop running.
“Of course, we are fully shielded from interference from both internal or external sources. All electronics may be utilized at any time during the flight,” one of the flight attendants answered.
“How long till we get there?” Anthone asked the couple sitting across from him.
“Well it’s a thirteen-hour flight, Hungary is nine hours ahead of us, so it’ll be almost 5PM by the time we get to the airport. We’re exempt from customs, but we have a three and half hour drive to Felsoszolnok. Don’t forget, we have to pick up some local clothing that will allow us to blend in with the gypsy population of central Europe. With luck, we’ll get there about nightfall tomorrow night,” Jaida explained.
“You truly are amazing,” Zeus said as he reached over and kissed Jaida on the lips.
“Okay, I’m sitting with the doctor on this trip,” Anthone declared as he got up to move.
The jet was airborne a short time later and the pilot confirmed everything Jaida had said about the time for the trip. A late lunch of grilled salmon and salad was served and then the couple and Anthony settled down for a nap. Dr. Connors was too busy on his laptop to be able to sleep.
The doctor was familiarizing himself with all the latest equipment necessary for cloning. He wanted to be able to identify the machinery in the lab and to know the most efficient way to destroy it when the time came. After several hours of looking at high tech catalogues, even the good doctor finally drifted off to sleep as the flight attendant turned the lights down low. It was just as well, had she seen the transformation that had come over Zeus as the moon was coming up, she might have left the plane in mid-air.