AXIOM HQ, New York
Dr. Smith had not left the Situation room since the Team had left for Texas, that was six hours ago. He finally sat down to eat his now stale and rubbery Bagel when one of the Communication screens came to life and Agent Burns face came into view.
He stood next to a dusty road, behind him heavily armed desert camouflage wearing men and several specialists in white hooded Coveralls using Metal detectors and other sensor equipment. ”Sir, we finished our initial survey.”
“Go on with it!”
“We found seven torch marks and a crater of 12 meters diameter and 3 meters deep. No radiation but sand and soil molten to glass. There are 1602 empty rifle cartridges. All NATO caliber, US Military issue and the same amount of links from a disintegrating belt.
Someone fired a machine gun of some sort here very recently. This being Texas it could just be a coincident but we believe they have been fired recently and perhaps belong to the actual scene.
“There are traces of blood belonging to at least 14 different individuals and we found a baby doll and a blanket. The prints on the doll belong to a Sheila Howard.
She has close ties to a large Biker gang called the Warriors, most active in New Mexico and surrounding states.”
There would be a complete report and a transcript, but Smith still took down notes with an old fashioned pencil, he always did. ”Any lead on the SUV?”
“Sir, the Satellite images were distorted somewhat from the local ground heat therefore no exact measurements or details could be made out, but we believe it is either a Ford Escape, Cadillac Escalade or Chevy Suburban. Bad news is there are a great number of these vehicles registered in this area and even more if we expand it to the three closest states.”
Smith actually cursed in his native language, then said. ”So basically you got nothing?”
“No Sir, there are only 67 owners of such vehicles within a 150 mile radius and we are going to check on them all and do AXIOM level background checks. If one of them has any Alien background we find them.”
“Alright keep me posted.”
Just as Burns saluted and cut the transmission one of his aides said.”Sir, reports just come in that four people have been killed by Cherubim, right here in New York!”
Smith sat down.” Can that be confirmed?”
“Black Roses have been found with the victims.”
“Detailed dossiers on all victims, copies of all CSI reports on my desk as soon as possible.”
“Aye Sir!” Ms. Grayson served her boss a cup of coffee without him ordering it. Smith only realized that as he had the cup halfway to his mouth. His tense face lit up with a short smile. ”Thank you Ms. Grayson, it is uncanny how well you know me and anticipate my needs.”
“Not uncanny Sir, long experience. Can I ask why AXIOM is so interested in an Assassin?”
“Because I suspect this assassin not to be from this world, some of the feats accomplished by that killer cannot be explained, except if you assume that killer has some form of teleportation device or skill. Last year Cherubim killed Muhammad Ben Halif, you heard about that Islamic fanatic leader of course. He was killed deep in a mountain retreat, surrounded by 200 of his most trusted men, all armed to the teeth. No one saw anything. The former Commandant of the Group Solomon, a highly secretive Mossad group, stabbed with a knife in the Mossad HQ, no one saw a thing.
When you send the Card to Morocco, it goes to a very old locally owned Hotel, and into the sorting box for room 100. Room 100 has been rented for 80 years, paid in advance and in gold to the owner of the Hotel. Agents and surveillance equipment of the best organizations including AXIOM have monitored who picks up the letters. With a Camera straight on the mail box, the letter is always collected and disappears, but no one sees a thing.”
She shrugged.” I am working for this outfit now for almost 20 years and I have seen things no normal human would ever think possible. Could it not just be smoke and mirrors like a very good David Copperfield or so?”
“Of course it could be, and I am fully prepared to accept that. But if that Cherubim is human then I want him or her in Axiom teaching our Agents.”
She took his cup and said. ”Are you going home now, Sir?”
“No, Ms. Grayson. Bring me my FBI ID. I am going to check the crime scene myself.”
EL PASO, Tx
Peter immediately recognized them, even though El Paso was a fairly big city and strangers weren’t unusual. Two men trying very hard to look inconspicuous as he entered watched him ever since he left the Wal Mart.
They wore jeans, windbreakers and baseball caps, nothing unusual except no one would wear a windbreaker halfway zipped up, even after sundown like now, not at this temperatures. Their faces were way to clean shaven and the fact they wore anti glare slightly yellow tinted glasses made him dismiss the idea of a planned hold up, he had seen the bulges under their left arms. Those were federal agents of some agency, he was almost certain.
That they followed him did into the parking lot made him a tad worried considering his recent acquaintances. He was still off duty and on suspension and that is why he didn’t have the magnetic decals on the doors identifying the truck as a police unit.
The red and blue lights retracted and not visible, like many other Rangers and law enforcement officers he used his private vehicle for patrol services. The department in return subsidized some of the repairs and maintenance costs, the two men might not know that he was a Ranger.
This changed as a big at one time white but now dust tan Dodge Ram Truck with a camper shell and with the characteristic whistle of a finely tuned Cummings turbo diesel engine stopped next to him and a square jawed, hat wearing man leaned out the window.”Ranger Baker! Mighty nice to see you! Fine job you did on them hooligans in Pontituc!”
Peter tipped his hat.”Just doin’ my job. Henry. How’s Gretel?” It turned into a little local small talk. Peter never forgot the two strangers who stood now exposed in the parking lot and knew that they had to move to a car or do something or even a five year old would pick them out.
An old man with a Veterans sticker on his town car, displaying the VFW post commander decal in his rear window stopped. At first cursing true Texan style because of the Dodge truck in his way but then stopping and joining the talk. The Agents approached and one of them was flashing some sort of ID way to fast and said. ”Federal Agents, Miller and Smith, please don’t be alarmed we are looking for a tan colored SUV. The driver of said vehicle might have witnessed an event or accident this morning. Just 40 miles north, where Farm road 4532 meets the 54, you both own such vehicles and we are asking if you have witnessed anything unusual this morning?”
Henry leaned on both his big forearms and grinned. ”Y’all ain’t to bright, ain’t ya? This ain’t no tan colored SUV. This is a Truck you see, with a camper shell on it and it ain’t tan colored. It’s shiny white whenever I get around washin’ it.”
The left Agent cleared his throat and said to his partner. ”It seems we have overlooked the possibility that the vehicle in question could be a truck with such a shell!”
Peter crossed his arms before his barrel chest. ”I personally like to see that ID of yours again and then I will radio it in and see if you two have contacted the sheriff’s office of your investigation.”
The right one had an arrogant face and looked Peter up and down like a college professor looking at a particular stupid pupil. ”This is a Federal Case. I assume you are a member of this Sheriff’s office.”
Peter lowered his arms and exposed his Texas Ranger Star. ”I am a Ranger, Sir.”
He made a half turn and wiped a layer of thick dust of his door.”My Suburban is not exactly tan either, it’s white as well. If there was an accident or incident on a Texas road then it is DPS jurisdiction first.”
A haughty smile played over the lips of the Agent who was supposed to be Miller. ”A real Texas Ranger then, well go and arrest Cow thieves or whatever you guys do. This is a high profile federal case, hardly anything that concerns you.”
To Henry he said. ”We would like to ask you to step out of your vehicle and tell us where you have been this morning.”
Henry didn’t move but looked at Peter. ”You let them waltz all over our rights and insult you?”
Feeling left out the old VFW Commander said. ”This ain’t no way to talk to citizens. I am a Veteran and I gladly bear witness before any court of what transpired here.”
Peter grinned. ”Thanks, Cliff. My Captain sure likes when I have witnesses!”
Both Federal Agents were suddenly ignored and the locals started jabbering again.
The one called Miller actually grabbed the old man by the arm. ”You will leave now and we will conduct our investigation.”
Smith pointed at Henry after listening to whatever came out of his earpiece. ”You, Sir are of interest. We checked your license plates and your property is quite close to the site of the incident. Your vehicle is close to the description.”
Peter’s voice was suddenly all business. ”Stand down and take your hands of this citizen. I want to see your ID’s now and I am not joking! Will you fail to identify yourself properly I will take you to the office until we established if you are indeed what you say you are and if you have the right to carry concealed firearms in the State of Texas. I shall not repeat myself!”
Miller wanted to say something decretory but saw the eyes of the Ranger and his hand rose above the half open zipper of the windbreaker and so did Smith. Neither of them had ever seen anyone draw so fast and all arrogance left Miller as he stared into the half inch muzzle hole of a S&W 500 50 cal Revolver.
Peter said. ”Mr. Smith you pulled your ID before with the other hand. I am getting real nervous when folks with guns under their jackets reach for them. Get my drift?”
Miller nodded and with a slow movement he pulled his ID and flipped it open. Peter glanced at it and saw the golden FBI seal and a picture ID below.”
Very good Mr. Miller, before I return catching Cow thieves and all that, you will accompany me to the Ranger HQ and there you will shed light on your case, Cliff and Henry will leave and do whatever they want unless you can produce a warrant for either man.”
Miller stared cold. ”You going to regret that, Ranger. You have no idea who you are messing with.”
“My knees are shaking with fear! Let’s go to your office then, shall we?”