The beautiful brunette FBI Field agent, opened the window of the passenger door a little bit while Smith steered the Duty Sedan through the Evening traffic. ”You promised to tell me about Cherubim!”
“It is the alias of a killer, a killer that never fails. Some say Cherubim is active under this name for the last 2000 years, maybe more. The Office believes it is not one person but an organization, as most of the feats and actions associated to Cherubim cannot be done by one person.”
“That would also explain the long activity. Why isn’t this organization not on the FBI watch list then?” She asked.
“Because virtually nothing is known about it, no one ever claimed to belong to it. No one was ever caught.”
“There have been Organizations and groups like this all over the world. The famous Ninja for one, the very word Assassin comes from the Middle East believe and dates back to the Crusades if I remember correctly.”
He turned his head for a short moment and nodded. ”Yes such groups have existed.”
“You don’t think it is a group, right?”
He gave her another look. ”No, I think it is one person, maybe father to son constellation but one person.”
“I think we are wasting our time going to the other crime scene Sir. I feel we should find out who hired that killer. I think we should find out more about Samantha Winters.”
“Who is she?”
“The woman Phillips raped and killed. He was acquitted because of Sam Green and his dark deeds. Someone who knew her had the money and the contacts to get this exotic killing expert of yours.”
Smith turned the steering wheel. “That is logical thinking. I am dropping you of at the Bureau so you can dig into Winter’s background.”
Her Cell Phone rang and after she exchanged a few words she said to Smith.”
The Judge who released Phillips has just been found impaled on the Stone sword of the Justitia statue at the downtown Courthouse!”
To Kate he said. ”Looks like the killing has just started and I have a feeling that anyone associated with Ms. Winters death is on the list. We need to make a list of potential targets and perhaps catch Cherubim in the act.”
The Agents weren’t the only ones who had that idea. Dennis had broken in the apartment of the late Samantha Winter and was rifling through the dead woman’s things to find clues.
He had to give it to Phillips, she had been a looker and according to what he found she wasn’t really a hooker or prostitute but a fashion model trying to make it big and taking on expensive Call girl jobs to keep her fed and a roof over the head. The apartment was nice and upscale, modern and feminine in décor and furniture.
He and two others of the outfit had no problem to convince the door man that it was less than healthy to object to their visit or even remember their presence later.
Benny stood by the door his hands folded before his belt and the pasta graveyard that grew every year a few inches. That he looked chubby and generally likeable was a very thin veneer that easily came off to reveal a sadistic bone breaking thug whenever he got angry or when he was told.
Luke was almost the exact opposite to Benny in terms of stature and size, but more than Benny’s equal when it came to being without scruples.
Luke was holding up a frilly lace bra with two fingers. ”What are we looking for again, Dennis?”
“Letters, journals, family pictures anything that gives us a clue about who had the money to hire a fancy killer.”
“Maybe this is something!” Luke held up a photo of a Marine in Dress blues before a US flag.”
Dennis snatched the photo and looked at it. ”I doubt a Marine could afford millions in gold, but it is a start.”
Something dripped on the photo he was still holding. Dennis wiped over it more in reflex than thinking and made a dark red smear.
The same moment he looked up from where the dripping came, he knew it was blood, It was Luke’s; the curved underwire of a bra was sticking out of his left eye.
Then the lights went out, something like feathers brushed across his neck. He heard Benny by the door saying. “What the fu…” then a suppressed gargle and a wet tearing sound.
Then there was silence. Dennis was suddenly very afraid, he pulled his .22 and just as his eyes were about to get used to the dark something very bright shone directly into his eyes.
He fired into the direction of the light, the silenced Ruger made little noise.”Who’s there? Show yourself! If you are that Cherubim killer I am sure we can come to an arrangement!”
He felt warm breath by his ear and a voice whispered. ”You are defiling this place. You had the audacity to come here. I would have killed you fast and painless.”
Dennis whirled around again the Ruger spat three times, shattering glass somewhere, here against the closed blinders where some of the neon light and the glitter of the never sleeping city came between the slots and he could make out shapes in the room. There was no one!
Like a trapped animal he circled. There was a shape near the door, something moved. He knew it was most likely Benny but he fired anyway and two bullets hit the shape and while it slumped over he clearly saw Benny’s silhouette and heard his friends muffled voice yelp in pain.
There was the voice again, this time at his other ear and again that feeling of something like a feather brushing his skin. ”You’re out of bullets Denny and I am still here.”
There was the scent of an expensive and feminine perfume. Perhaps he had shot a perfume bottle, He looked down and saw the slide of his gun looked into the backwards position, the magazine empty. He had a second magazine in his pocket, but it might as well have been at the other side of town. Whoever was there was playing with him like a cat played with a mouse before it was killed. ”Listen, Cherubim or whatever you call yourself. I can double whatever you get paid for this. My boss is very influential and rich.”
“No you cannot double what I get paid for this. The price for this one is your life.”
There a beam of light caught the glimpse of long blond hair that gleamed like pure gold; he almost believed he saw something like wings in the dark. The shape of a tall woman in a long flowing dress, then it was gone, but his throat constricted in fear. He was now certain he did not deal with a human being; this was an angel, the Angel of death.
In this very moment he saw the faces of his many victims passing by his inner eye. The realization that he had killed so many times and in his mind he now feared death more than anything. For he would be held accountable by a power not of this world for his deeds!
Oh how much did he wish to live and atone! ”Let me live! Oh please let me live! I will repent; I need just one more chance!”
He sobbed like a child as tears welled up in his eyes… The lights came suddenly on again and a Brunette woman and a tall older guy stood with their guns drawn in the room. Kate Johnson and Smith stepped over the body of Benny, and found Dennis Andelli, ice cold brutal enforcer and killer sobbing and crying begging for his life, he knelt before a marabou feathered satin robe that hung there on a hanger, before a potted room plant with large leafs.
Dennis saw the agents. ”Oh thanks you are here! I want to confess. I want to tell you everything I ever did!”
While Kate dialed for the police, Smith went over to the killer. ”What happened here?”
“I am Dennis Andelli and I am a killer. I must confess all my crimes, maybe then she has mercy on me.”
“You actually saw Cherubim?”
He pointed at the nightgown.”A real Angel I tell you, with wings and her hair glowed like gold!”
Lt. Decker got the call just as he was about to drive home after a long day’s work. He acknowledged, switched on the siren and the red lights and cursed at the yellow cab in front of him that gave a rat’s ass about his siren. The turbaned driver even flipped him the bird after he passed and shook his fist.
He had a good mind to pull him over but according to dispatch the string of murders continued. First New York’s newest star attorney, then the Phillips, a well known Judge next and now two Mafia hitters got whacked in the apartment of the Winters girl that had been killed by Dave Phillips. Found by those snooping FBI agents no less.
Well if they wanted the case they could have it, as it seemed they were all connected, but the Major was breathing down the Commissioner’s neck to keep the case in New York. The Phillips family had always been a big supporter of the Major of course. Despite the heavy traffic he made it in just 14 minutes. Swat cars and paramedics already there, and a small crowd of bystanders rubbernecking to see what was going on. Much to his dismay he saw the white and blue van with the big antenna mast pull up just as he did and the big Channel Seven logo on it. Not that he disliked the reporters, they had their job to do just as he did, but more often than not they complicated things and made a good investigation almost impossible.
Much to his surprise he saw soldier in the group of onlookers, he looked so out of place among the regular New Yorkers. He wore that green Dress Uniform like he was born in it. The ribbon display on his left chest several inches wide told a story of a long and distinguished career.
Decker was a cop for too long he didn’t miss things and he immediately spotted the dark blue Lincoln town car with Government license plates and the Army seal on the door, a driver waiting.
That soldier there in the crowd with his gray hair under the Green Beret was certainly not an enlisted man. He walked straight to the uniformed man, flipped his badge and noticed the silver eagles on the man’s shoulders. ”I am Lt. Decker, Sir. Can I ask what a full bird Colonel is doing rubbernecking a crime scene. Somehow I have a feeling you belong on the other side of the yellow tape, because I bet my pension you are somehow connected to it.”
The Soldier looked every inch like an Army Colonel was supposed to look. Small moustache, steely eyes, hero jaw line and that air of instant readiness all long term soldiers had.” Lieutenant, I am not sure if I am in any way connected to your case. I came here from Washington to visit a girl.”
“Well you came to the right place, Sir. This area is known for the upper class call girls, but why would you come in uniform and with a driver all the way from Washington?”
“You do have this typical New Yorker humor I see, Lt. Decker. I was looking for a particular girl. Her name is Samantha Winters and I came to understand she lives in this apartment building. That it is taped off and that there is a crime scene I did not expect.”
“I see. I can keep my pension after all. Ms Winter’s apartment is the scene of the crime and the girl in question is actually dead for quite some time now, also murdered by the way. So can I ask what brings you here?”
“Ms. Winter is the only relative of a soldier of mine and I needed to talk to her.”
“Why don’t you come up with me to the apartment and I fill you in. There are FBI agents up there; one of them seems to be from Washington, just like you.”
The Colonel followed him without saying a word, but even though the old soldier’s face seemed to be chiseled out of granite and just as static, Decker believed he saw something like anger or regret in the Colonel’s eyes.
The girls apartment was the usual orchestrated chaos of Medical Examiner, Uniformed cops, Paramedics and Crime Scene Investigators. A little to the side stood the two FBI agents.
The Lieutenant had to admit the Brunette was a looker, with her rich shimmering chestnut hair that was cut in a girlish page cut with bangs reaching her eyes, but despite her girlish almost innocent and very beautiful face , she had a flair of accomplishment and competence around her.
The other Agent for some reason appeared artificial to Decker. He could not put a finger on his feeling. The man was perfectly normal and he wore glasses and a tailored suit. To the Lieutenant he had a Clark Kent type of flair, not that he looked like the fictional alter ego of Superman but he too somehow hid something else under that suit, something he could not describe of course and his mind so trained to see behind everyone’s façade tired to find something behind everyone he encountered.
Next to the doorway lay an old customer of his, Bernhard Rossellini aka Benny Brass-knuckles one of Mr.R’s enforcers. Decker could not feel sorry to see him dead, but no matter who did humankind the favour sending Benny to meet his maker, it was still murder.
Benny had been gagged with a rubber ball and tied up with plastic cable ties. He had been shot, a bullet had ripped open his neck artery and judging by the red mess he bled to death. Across the room Luke Griffin still standing on tip toes, tied by the neck to a wooden post that was part of a room divider. Something was sticking out of his left nostril and left eye and a thin drip of blood down his shirt.
Most surprised he was however seeing Dennis Andelli handcuffed sitting before Harry Schulman, his colleague talking like his life depended on it, while Harry was writing as fast as he could into his small note book.
Decker didn’t miss the hint of a smile creeping into the Colonel’s eyes as he saw the dead men. It was as fast gone as it had appeared.
Harry, looked more like a biker than a New York Police detective, with his long raggedy hair, beard and leather vest. As usual he wore some garish T shirt underneath advertising the name and logo for some brutish loud heavy metal band. In sharp contrast to Phil Decker’s beige London Fog trench coat and cheap dark gray slacks, despite Harry’s outer appearance and catalog of habits that drove Decker nearly insane he was a good partner and excellent cop.” Phil, we solved twenty three unsolved murders tonight, Dennis had been scared shitless and he hasn’t stopped singing , and enough to send the Big R for the rest of his life to Rykers.”
Dennis fished a kerchief out of his pocket. This was possible as he had been cuffed in the front and not to the back and blew his nose.”
Decker simply nodded, then went over to the FBI agents while watching the coroner taking Luke down. He had been tied to the post with women’s stockings as he saw now.
”What is that thing sticking out of his face?”
Kate answered with a tone of disgust in her face that wrinkled her fine upward pointing nose in a peculiar sexy fashion. ”That’s an underwire, Lieutenant. A piece of spring steel.”
“You say that as if I should know what an underwire is.”
“It is part of a certain type of a woman’s bra. Whoever killed Luke pushed the thing into his nose and due to the curved nature it came back out in his left eye socket.”
“And you found them?”
Dennis made a strange gurgling sound and everyone was turning. The killers was suddenly snapping for air like a fish on dry land. His cuffed hands tried to get to his own throat. The only person who immediately went into action trying to help the man was the Colonel, who pried the man’s collar open, eased him to the ground and listened to his heartbeat. Only then the paramedics chatting at the door reacted. But even after they took over and worked with defibrillator and oxygen, they pronounced him dead a few moments later.
The still present Medical Examiner was with the paramedics fighting for the killer’s life, wiped the sweat of his forehead and looked up to Decker.” Don’t ask me what he died off. Looks like poisoning if I would have to guess, but at least I can give you the time of death right away.”
Decker spread his arms. ”All of you, out! We can talk outside and we got to talk, but for now I want only Crime scene in here.”
They all listened without arguing and went down in the lobby of the apartment building. Decker gave the cops at the door a sign and they understood his gesture and stepped before it to signal no one was going to leave just jet.
Kate Johnson mustered the soldier with a side glance. “That was quick thinking in there, Sir. I am just bewildered to see an Army Colonel among the uniforms responding to a murder scene.”
“This Lieutenant dragged me in from the street ma’am.”
While Johnson asked the Colonel, Barber used his normal looking Blackberry to run the picture of the Colonel through the AXIOM computers.
Decker crossed his arms, looked over the little group. ”FBI and now the Army, I don’t care who you know in Washington but I got eight bodies and you do not leave here until I get some answers or I am ordered off the case. Let’s start with you Colonel. You said you wanted to visit Samantha Winters. I want to know why!”
“I told you before Lieutenant, the woman in question was the only family member of a soldier of my unit and I wanted to talk to her about her brother.”
Harry Schulman had no problem simply walking around the doorman’s desk and started working the coffee machine that was there, while he looked for the supplies he said. ”A full bird Colonel going out looking for family members, what are the chances for that? Was he the General’s lover boy or something or did he manage to get himself killed in one of your stinking wars?”
Harry never made a secret out of the fact that he hated the military and anything that was connected to it. Phil didn’t know details but it had to do with Harry losing a brother or someone else close to him in the Afghanistan or Iraq wars.
John Barber still worked his Blackberry and said, ”It is of considerable interest to the Bureau as well to find out what your business is with Ms. Winters, Colonel.”
With slow moves the Colonel put his gloves on. “I am sure the girl is FBI, but you Sir I have my doubts. I can smell a spook twenty clicks against the wind. My visit to Ms. Winters is a private matter and unless you subpoena me before a court of law there is little that requires me to comply with any of your wishes, needs or interests. I further decided to leave now. Anyone tries to stop me from doing just that will learn that while I am a soldier I have not put the citizen aside, and am fully aware of my rights.”
He gave Harry a cold stare.” There are men and women who wear this uniform to make sure cowards and yellow bellies can voice their opinions without fear of oppression.”
The Colonel marched straight for the door. Harry pointed with his coffee cup.” Did you just call me a coward? Did you Clown just insult me?”
The Colonel smiled coldly. “I was not addressing anyone in particular, but be my guest if the shoe fits.”
Phil yelled,” Harry stop don’t do anything stupid!”
He knew the hot temper of his partner and there were plenty of incidents on record were Harry barely escaped charges of police brutality. It was too late.
Harry flanked over the counter, revealing that he was agile and fast despite his heavy set, stout appearance. “We are not done with you, warrior. I am going to show you what I think of folks calling me a coward!”
Phil did not agree with most of Harry’s methods but his partner was anything but a coward. No single member of the New York Police force could be a coward and make it even one day working the streets of that big city.
He rushed forward trying to stop his partner. The Colonel moved with the speed of a Black Belt martial arts master, turned took Harry’s stretched arm and catapulted the man adding momentum across his back and made him slide several meters across the tile floor. Then he straightened his coat, the uniformed cops looked asking in Phil’s direction to see if they should interfere.
Phil reached the Colonel. ”Sir, you have the right to leave, but I consider you a witness and a person of interest in this case and you may leave after I have checked your ID and know how to reach you!”
Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Harry get up with red hot fury in his face.”Harry, stop it right there!” Harry did stop in his tracks. ”Alright I stop for now, but I am not going to sleep and dig into your history, Soldier and if I find so much as an unpaid parking ticket you’re going to be mine!”
The Soldier handed Phil his ID.” I am Thomas I. Grey, US Army. On that ID you find my service number. If you need anything else from me then I insist you call the MP.”
Phil knew the Soldier was right, so he noted name and number and let the Colonel go. He did the same with the FBI agents and sighed. This was a mess and he actually hoped the Feds would take it from him, but knowing his boss and the Major that would not be very likely.”
Kate increased her walking speed to catch up with Barber. ”Sir, was the Soldier right? You are not FBI?”
He pointed to the car. ”Get in Ms. Jackson, and I will tell you.” She was eager to hear who he really worked for, that he was not a regular FBI Agent she suspected from the beginning. Before she even was in completely her cell phone rang and it was her boss, telling her that she was attached to Barber’s special unit until further notice. Her Boss sounded hurried and disconnected before she could ask much questions.
He grinned at her as he started the engine. ”First of all my name is not Barber but Smith. Yes I am aware it sounds like a very fake cover name but I am really John Smith.”
He steered the car of the curb and threaded it into the flowing traffic. ”Secondly, I am indeed not with the FBI.”
“So you are NSA or CIA or whatever else?”
“Whatever else describes it actually quite accurately. What is true is that I am indeed very interested in finding that Cherubim killer and also the fact that you are transferred to us.”
“Don’t I have any say in this? I am glad to be in the FBI and I have no ambitions to work in the spy business.”
“I will give you a choice, but I also seen much talent in you and a sharp mind. Our organization can always use highly talented individuals. I pulled your file you see and what I have seen and the ways you conduct yourself so far have convinced me you are a good fit for AXIOM.”
“Ms. Johnson do you believe in UFOs and aliens?”
“What a strange question to ask, Mr. Smith and I am getting the feeling I should ask you to stop the car and let me out right now.” She wrinkled her cute nose. ”I am not sure I believe all those abduction stories and I am certain the crop circles are man-made but I am pretty sure that there might be planets around other suns and that live developed elsewhere.”
“AXIOM is a secret Government Agency and we monitor and investigate Extraterrestrial activity on Earth. I personally believe Cherubim might be an Alien and that is what got me involved.”
She tried not to, but she gasped never the less. ”You are serious, aren’t you?”
“Quite so, Ms. Johnson, please don’t be alarmed but I assure you Aliens from other planets are quite real and I know for sure as I was not born on this Planet either.”
“Hold it right there, Mr. Smith or whoever you are. You are putting a lot on the table and I need to digest it bit by bit. Are you here to invade us or something like that? Are you controlling this body somehow or are you a shape shifter or something?”
Her hand crept to her purse were she kept her 38 special. “No, Agent Johnson, I am not here to invade. I was tasked by President Eisenhower with this job. I am happily married to an Earth woman. I have grown kids and a host of Grand Kids. I am from a culture called Pan Saran. We are biologically almost identical to humans and we believe Earthers and Saran Humans had common ancestors. I am not a Body Snatcher, nor is there a xeno parasite inside me, but the fact remains that there are Aliens and some of the monsters and horrors dreamt up by Hollywood and the Sci Fi writers are not so farfetched.”
He turned into a Parking Garage of a Department store and followed the concrete ramp in spirals down to the lowest parking level. Kate had her hand no firmly around her revolver.
”Either this is all true or you are completely insane. Insane folks can’t help it but they are often dangerous, especially if others do not believe their fantasies. I like to believe you but I am afraid reality is the second option, so I ask you to stop the car now.”
He pressed the accelerator and the Sedan became faster shooting straight towards a concrete wall. Kate kept her cool, despite the fear she felt for her life and pulled her gun. ”Mr. Alien stop the car, now!”
She was not sure if an insane person trying to commit suicide against a concrete wall was too impressed by a gun but she had to try. The car became too fast to stop in time and she braced herself and hoped the airbags would do at least some good. In the very last second the entire Concrete wall vanished and the Sedan rolled past it and now decelerated fast and came moments later to a complete stop.
They were in a hypermodern all stainless steel and lights place. A selection of various cars, motorcycles, vans and trucks parked or worked on by technicians in white coats.
The facing wall was decorated with a logo and the Word AXIOM.
She cocked the hammer and pointed the snub nosed Smith and Wesson at the man. ”That was rotten, Mr. Smith. I don’t like being played with. It is a perfectly good defense in court when I say I shot you in a state of high stress and after effects of a shock moment.”
“You Ms. Johnson have ice water in your veins and even in the face of death you kept your cool. I didn’t play with you, I was testing you and I am pleased to say you passed.”
He opened the driver door. ”If you want to shoot me, do it now. Otherwise let us go to the briefing room and I fill in the details and get us something to eat.”
She released the hammer with an often done move and put it down. ”Lead the way then, Mr. Smith. Does the Boss of this outfit know you dragged me in?”
“I am the boss of this outfit.”