I re-emerged from Dr. Marconi’s regression therapy and could only guess that Chun Qin was Matt, and I was Ben Min, and that ancient battlefield was where our journey through the ages had begun, for better or worse. I also thought about the prophecy and it didn’t take long to put two and two together and realize that the meteorite that crashed into the Salt Lake in Utah was, in fact, composed of the Benadine Mineral.
Now all I had to do was figure out a way to use this to my advantage. But more importantly, I had to prevent Matt from realizing it too, if he hadn’t already tapped into his Chun Qin consciousness.
I snuck out Dr. Marconi’s secret door and moved down the tight passage. Halfway down, a blast of raised voices erupted behind me, followed by something that sounded like a sudden remodeling job. I ran back to discover Eye Patch hovered above a beaten and battered Dr. Marconi, about to finish him off.
“Trenton,” Eye Patch snarled, “glad you could join us. The doctor’s been so kind to help us out.”
“Who the hell’s us?”
This seemed to throw Eye Patch for a loop, but as I stepped forward, he ran into the waiting area, knocked over chairs and tables in his path, and stormed into the hall.
“Are you okay?” I asked, scanning Dr. Marconi’s surface wounds.
“I’m fine,” he said, angrily and brushed away my friendly hand. “Knowing you is becoming quite harmful to my health, young man.”
“I’m sorry, but what did he want from you?”
“I don’t know why a thug like that cares, but he wanted to know about that meteorite in Utah.”
“Really?” I snapped, calculating quickly. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, damn it, now leave me alone, if you don’t mind.”
I offered a gracious smile before darting out the door in pursuit of Eye Patch. As I followed his path of destruction, I thought it odd and quite a reversal of fortune for the one-eyed misfit and myself, as I was usually the mouse and he the cat.
I carelessly rushed out the building’s front door and checked both ways. Half a block up, on a small bridge spanning a streambed that eventually joined the Potomac River, stood Eye Patch, holding Number Nine by the collar, ready to toss him off the bridge. I yelled and Eye Patch turned, froze momentarily, then let Number Nine back to the ground and took off running.
When I approached Number Nine, I seriously considered tossing him off the bridge myself.
“Thank you, Trenton. I would’ve thought you’d enjoy seeing me plummet to my doom,” he said with a cat-ate-the-canary grin.
I glanced over the side of bridge and cocked my eyebrow. “That’s hardly a drop that would kill you … broken leg maybe, but unfortunately, not kill you.”
“Then my legs thank you just the same.”
“Why was he going to toss you over the side?”
Number Nine finished brushing himself off and glanced down the street toward the fading figure of Eye Patch.
“That’s my business,” he said and placed his hand in his coat pocket, which until then, I hadn’t noticed had a considerable bulge. “But I must ask if you’ve lived up to our agreement.”
“Is that a gun?”
“Answer the question, please.”
“Allison did not bring back the theory and her two colleagues didn’t make it back, as I’m sure you know.”
“Good, that gives us a little more time.”
“What do you mean?”
“I said your friend Matthew was off-the-charts clever, didn’t I? It seems that he has succeeded in double-crossing me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know you don’t, but soon will. You see, Matthew has been working for a little known private entity – run by his father – that seems hell bent on throwing a monkey wrench into the international order of things. They hold no allegiance to the standing order and, I’m afraid, seem quite intent on establishing themselves at the top of the food chain.”
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“Your friend and his colleagues are holding the wormhole theory hostage, young man, and he wants you in Salt Lake City to negotiate the theory’s release.”
I thought about asking why I had been chosen for that honor, but now having a clearer understanding of our past lives history, already knew the answer: Matt didn’t want to negotiate, he wanted to kill me and then help his father take over the world or at least blackmail it. This also meant if Matt was telling the truth, then he had found Crimson’s manuscript and figured out the code.
“Where in Salt Lake City?”
“He said you’d know the place.” I frowned and Number Nine added, “And don’t think about not going or trying to double-cross me too.”
“What if I do?”
“Then we’ll have to follow through on the terms of our last agreement. So, Trenton, you had better deliver that theory to me or we will finish the job and kill Allison.”
I grabbed him by the collar and pushed him hard against the railing. “If you do…” I let the thought linger because I honestly didn’t know how to finish the threat.
Number Nine smiled.
I pushed him aside and ran toward the nearest Metro. Unfortunately, Ms. Petrovich and her agents were waiting for me.
I had no escape.