GC III: Xeno Defense

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Under the City

Even though Doctor Isah himself ensured him that the bugs he carried into the HQ , could not have kept contact with whoever planted them once he was in the elevator.

Dr. Smith was more than unnerved about the black rose he had found in between the pages of his magazines. That meant someone was following him, shadowing his moves, but why him?

More than ever he needed to find out who Cherubim was and get that killer before the killer got him.

He liked the smart FBI Agent and since she was very much into the case they went to a meeting at the police headquarters of the 12th precinct.

He watched the pretty brunette turn the heads of several men on their way to the conference room with the blank table, chairs and a white board.

The police commissioner had summoned those working on the case together to form a special task force, temporarily working together, regardless of jurisdictions and other bureaucratic hurdles.

He and Kate represented the FBI, Phil Decker and his partner was here for the Police.

There was a man of the state attorney’s office present as well and of course the police commissioner himself.

Much to Dr. Smith’s surprise the Army Colonel came through the glass door, flanked by two younger barrett wearing men. Both wore Lieutenant bars on their collars and looked as tough as nails.

The Commissioner greeted and thanked everyone from coming and went straight to business. ”You represent the law in this our city and I want you to pool your resources and forget about anything else, find me that Cherubim killer or whatever is behind that name and present something or someone to the eight o clock news and make the killing stop! ”

He gestured to the Colonel. ”I called the President himself after I had a talk to my police Lieutenants and summoned you as well Colonel. Phil Decker, is one of the finest detectives this cirty has and he always has a nose for things and he believes you hold an important part to the puzzle.”

The Colonel put his cover on the table and sat down with measured moves.

“I am indeed under direct orders to assist you if I can. I am in this business for a long time and I too have heard of Cherubim.”

Dr. Smith could not curb himself. ”Then don’t stop there and speak. Go ahead and tell all!”

The Colonel glared at Smith and said.“I know who you are! I know what you do, so I suggest you behave civil or I do tell all indeed.”

Again the Commissioner spoke raising his hands.“Gentlemen no need to get uncivilized. Everyone here was cleared by the Secret Service for security clearance of the highest order. That was the condition the President insisted upon before I summoned you all and put together this commission.”

He then said to the old Soldier. ”But Mr. Smith is right. Don’t stop; tell us what the Army has to do with all this.”

The Officer said.“The Army has very little to do with it. However it has a lot to do with The Joint Special Operations Command of which I am part of. Samantha Winters had a brother who was one of the men I trained a while ago. Clandestine operations and black ops was the main mission of this group and naturally being in this business, each of my men heard and knew about this Assassin Cherubim. ”

Phil glared over to his partner then said to the Colonel. “So you say this man of yours had the knowledge and perhaps the contacts to hire this Cherubim? From what I understand it takes lots of money to hire this Assassin. How can a soldier afford that?”

The Colonel smiled coldly. ”This group was disbanded after a very liberal commander in chief cut the funding for much of the military including funding for this stealth unit. The men retired from the military, I know little of their finances. ”

Phil stopped his partner with a gesture and said. ”I personally think this Cherubim is not one person but an organization. No single person could do what this Cherubim supposedly has done. Let me be frank, you trained a group of men in clandestine warfare. After the unit is disbanded they go private. Could it not be they somehow joined this group, and Samantha’s brother is now using his connections or associates to avenge the death of his sister?”

The Colonel could not hide the pride he felt as he said. ”Each of my men would certainly be capable of the feats associated with this Cherubim. ”

“Then I suggest you provide us with the files of each of these men, photos, whereabouts and that sort of thing and if one of them is or was anywhere near New York I think we are a big step into the right direction,” Phil got up.“Not for a minute did I think you being in the dead girls apartment was a coincident, soldier.”

It was clear, the Colonel did not like to get orders from what he thought was just a second grade run of the mill cop. ”I did not say one of them is Cherubim. I said one of them could be. However I am certain that the Squad can be contacted and their cooperation ascertained.”

Harry was surprisingly silent and restrained until now, “Would it not simply need an order from you to get their cooperation?”

The Army officer’s voice turned sharp. “They are discharged now, no longer active. I offer to go to their place and determine how much, if at all they are involved and then convince them to assist.”

“Where is that place?”

“Washington State.”

Harry asked. “And you think we let you simply get out of state and out of sight? Who knows what it takes to get you back here. I am going with you!”

---

The subway and rail tunnels, sewers of New York consisted of shafts, abandoned subway stations in many layers.

Officials estimated that up to 5000 homeless lived here beneath the neon and the glitter of this towering mega polis. New Yorkers had a name for them, Mole People.

Samuel White, so the story had it lived down here in a section of a railway tunnel for more than 18 years now.

Only a few actually knew his real name, he went by the name Rat King.

Samuel loved this name much better than his real name, except of course at each 11th of the month when he collected his welfare check and 200 dollars on his EBT card at the Welfare Office.

Up there he was a nobody, just another dirty face panhandling nuisance. Down here he was the Rat King. The place he called his home could not really be defined, as it was not really a tent, not exactly a hut.

He called it “My place”. One wall out of cargo palettes the other was the concrete of the tunnel, wooden boards, a pile of reeking mattresses on one side. Partially roofed with a tarp, there were a few chairs, a cupboard made of milk crates filled with cups, plates, utensils and some cans of food.

One would be surprised what you could find in the dumpsters and trash cans if you didn’t mind the grime and the stench. Most of the Mole People down here did no longer notice it and deep down somewhere Samuel was certain he would miss it if he ever had to go somewhere else.

While it was an urban myth that the mole people formed tribes and had their own underground laws and all that, there were some rules you lived by here down here.

It was considered a bad thing to pilfer through another guys sleeping place. Of course that only held true if no one suspected you had booze or something to smoke.

Real drugs were a rarity down here, no one here could really afford them. Of course almost anyone down here had more than just tried just about anything, but it usually was paint or gasoline sniffing and the cheapest alcohol usually in form of so called 40 ties,

Forty ounce bottles of malt liquor. Samuel had a good day at panhandling. Someone actually gave him ten bucks and with the other change he almost hit 40 dollars.

He couldn’t make that collecting cans all day long. Besides you had to get up really early and walk far to get a decent amount of aluminum or plastic bottles.

He was quite happy as he returned to his place with 3 bottles of Malt liquor, a pack of Gunsmokes, the cheapest cigarettes out there and a real honest to god steak.

He would fry himself that steak, along with a can of beans and bread and tomorrow he had plenty to get a Big Breakfast at McDonald’s.

To him, things could not have been much better. The screeching breaks of a Subway train echoed through the tunnels, but it was a familiar sound to him by now and he knew the times when trains would rush by just beyond his rail way tunnel separated to the subway only by pillars and a rusty chain link fence, but still a good 150 meters from his home. Just as he had made it, he took the last sip out of the first Forty he had started to sample right after he had left the store. It wasn’t enough to get him that welcome numbness, but he had an empty stomach and he did feel something.

He shared this area of the tunnel with about a dozen or so others much like him. He was here longest and the others actually looked up to him and came for advice. Samuel the Rat King knew a lot of tricks on how to survive the concrete jungle upstairs and where all the handouts took place.

None of the others were here right now; he had the tunnel all for himself. Normally they would smell his liquor and hear the slightest tingle of glass against glass and be here to have a few sips, but it was still early and all the others would just about now find their way to the St. Mary Shelter.

Not to sleep but to receive a warm meal. It was Monday and it was Baloney cheese sandwiches and soup on a Monday .

A very good dinner, but tonight he had a real steak and he would fry it, not stand in any line at all and eat it all by himself. His stove was a wood fire enclosed with bricks and a metal grill over it. It took him no time to light the fire, and wipe the old frying pan as clean as he could get it.

It was almost like a ceremony as he poured some oil, diced an onion and put it in.

The smell of the cooking onions suddenly filled the air around him and it was the most mouthwatering, inviting smell he had smelled in a long time.

He was so concentrated on his cooking that he didn’t notice the movement coming from the back of the tunnel. There in the side was large room build next into the tunnel, perhaps once used as some sort of maintenance shop or storage room for the rail road, the metal door long gone and the room now home to a group of homeless.

Not far from that room above and on the surface was the warehouse converted into a temple of a Chinese Buddhist sect. The movement came from something big, something that threw a long shadow against the dark gray concrete walls.

If Samuel would have looked he could have seen the shadow for a long moment, but it was perhaps better that way. Samuel could have never described the shape. Nothing living on Earth cast a shadow like that.

The steak had been on sale but it was a real nice piece of beef and Samuel now felt a little sorry for the others standing in line for bologna sandwiches and soup.

Of course there was also a feeling of selfish pride as he put the meat into the hot pan.

It was never quiet down here. The trains made a racket, and the car traffic above was at its peak because of rush hour. It was a background noise Samuel no longer noticed, it also masked the grinding noise of large legs moving closer across tracks and the loose granite gravel.

There was no real explanation why Samuel suddenly felt that there was something wrong, other than the fact that he survived on and below the streets of New York for most of his adult life and that gave him sometimes a sixth sense for trouble and danger.

He looked up from his almost finished steak and there he saw it. He looked straight at it but there was nothing he could compare it to.

There is a collective instinctive knowledge all higher life forms of earth, an evolutionary instinct telling that a wasp or a shark is dangerous even if one had never seen one before.

Somehow all living things on Earth recognized each other to be from the same source.

Samuel knew the instant he saw the thing that it was not of this world. His mind tried hard to relate the thing to something familiar. It was not a lizard, not an insect, not human or mammal. It was not a snake, not a worm but it had things in common with all of these.

It was tall , at least seven feet, had six, or maybe eight limbs, segmented like insect legs, muscles like a mammal and a scaled skin.

A ring shaped drooling mouth with cone like teeth, grabbing mandibles to each side and clusters of black eyes much like a spider all across his dome shaped neck less head.

It was of a yellowish color and crushed wooden pallets between three fingered clawed hands into splinters without any apparent effort.

All the horror and the shock seeing this thing coming toward him had him frozen stiff for a long moment, much too long to really escape. Like the real rats he too had plenty of holes and escape routes, but it was too late now to get away.

Somewhere in all this he remembered his steak and he grabbed the hot iron pan and tossed it with all his might into whatever that thing was.

It was fast! One of the limbs caught the pan, before it could hit. Much to Samuels’s surprise he heard the thing make a yelping blubbering sound, and he saw a puff of smoke rise from the being’s hand as it burned itself on the very hot pan. Samuel laughed with an insane note to his voice.“You ugly motherfucker can be hurt!”

And he slashed out with his old cooking knife with the busted handle. It was old but still was 14” of real Henckel Brand Solingen steel, once the pride of some world class chef cooking in one of the fancy eateries.

Experiment Nine had hatched only a few hours ago and escaped the breeding chamber, killing two Feron scientists. It then killed six sleeping homeless in that railroad tunnel room, and it was so intoxicated with its own power and rage that it was now completely unprepared to receive pain from such a weak powerless and fragile creature.

Experiment Nines adaptive Intelligence made one crucial observation early on, those humans would not simply accept their fate but fight!

The human with the knife was ripped apart and had become sustenance to Experiment Nine. Its upper left manipulator was burned but it healed fast, the knife still sticking in its fourteenth eye , upper row right, would need some more careful attention.

No vital organs were hit, but it would take several days for the eye to restore itself and the pain was still quite strong. The very sensation of pain was something its designers forgot or overlooked, because Experiment Nine was unprepared for this strong and sudden sensation and it didn’t like it one bit.

Only a little more sustenance was needed and a new larvae could be produced and with it a new Experiment Nine. It would no longer be alone and the new one would have all the experience and memories of the first one!

Its designers made it intelligent and it saw through the plans of its Feron creators and was able to speed up the hatching process by mere will power, just enough to surprise its own creators and prevent them to implant the command device. It was not under Feron Control, it was free on its own and it would conquer this primitive world and then reach the stars and spread all over the Universe. This was its clear and only goal.

---

Nalka saw Sunku coming up the narrow path that led to the cloister. From the window he sat, he had a magnificent view over a Himalayan valley surrounded by truly majestic mountains.

Much of the natural beauty was lost to Nalka Kalka. To him nothing was as perfect as a Feron world. Sunku had barely left to this place called New York. Since he had to rely on local transportation he could not have made it there and be back again already.

Nalka could read the body language of Sunku very well and knew he would report of problems long before he opened his mouth. He decided to remain polite never the less and hear what Sunku had to say and decide if it was time to carry out his termination order right away.

Sunku bowed slightly and moved his hands to form all sixteen gestures of apology as he entered his own study now occupied by Nalka. ”Experiment Nine has hatched and it is set loose among the humans!”

“Why is this so? Was it not still several days before the hatching process completed? How could this happen with you having the key?”

“The experiment hatched ahead of schedule and unexpected. It disregarded all commands and resisted violently against the fitting of the control device.”

“How can this be? Did you not assure me success?”

“I am not sure. Something went wrong and the creature awoke and escaped even before I could make it there. It killed and has disappeared. I am sure it multiplied already!”

“So you have no control over the creature and it could as easily turn against us?”

“No we do not.”

Nalka got up. “The I must do what I was ordered to do and I won’t fail in my assignment.”

Before he made it even halfway to the door, it opened and a Saresii scientist came in.

Saresii were one of the humanoid species. Just like the Sarans they looked very much like the Terrans. All Saresii looked like females, even though they were a bisexual race.

Nalka did not know if the one coming in was a man or a woman. He knew of course that the Saresii were among the oldest species and their technology was far ahead of almost all known species and most certainly the Feron.

Another aspect of these beings assured that they were well respected and even feared. Saresii had Psionic powers.

While almost every sentient species had a few individuals developing so called Psionic powers, every Saresii had vast abilities.

Their culture based on what they called Psionic technology. Only one other known species had such abilities, the Kermac. That Saresii walked in the Study of the cloister with a flair of self importance and presence and gave Nalka the famous Saresii down the nose look as if examining a particular stupid individual then said to Sunku.

“Your Friend Captain Nalka Kalka did not plan to take you back to Feron Prime. He has standing orders to kill you all and destroy all evidence of your presence. He had these orders ever since he landed and now he wanted to execute them.”

Sunku spread his arms in disbelieve and made the signs of disappointment and disgust. ”I do not really like this Saresii but she has spent much time with us here and I learned to trust her. I have scarified many years of my life and my very body to this cause. I was promised great honors and retirement in the Gray Valley for my services here. Experiment Nine was not my idea; to come here was not my idea. I simply followed all Commands given! Now you want to kill me?”

“It is your duty to follow all commands of the Inners and if they order your destruction then this is to be followed as well. We are outers we do not have the Wisdom and foresight of Inners. This is the Way of the Feron and it always was so!”

“I have only your word that the Inners said so. An Inner of the highest order has personally promised me great rewards! I am inclined to hear such terminal orders from an Inner and not from you!”

Nalka made the three signs of indifference and added the finalizing gesture. ”You failed, the Experiment failed. My orders are clear and all your opinions and protests will not change the outcome. However it will help your memory and your family pod if you both tell me exactly what it was that went wrong.”

Sunku was furious but he was Feron and so he bowed and gestured to the Saresii. “This can best be answered by the Scientist. I myself do not know the details yet.”

As all Saresii this one too, moved with great grace. There was a natural loftiness in everything they did and said. ”Your Inners were too eager and impatient; the Feron Scientists working with me on that project had separate orders from the official ones and interfered.”

Nalka blinked and forgot to make any signs to accompany his words. ”I fail to see the explanation in your statement!”

The Saresii scientist sat down on a wooden bench before one of the open windows. ”The Ferons are ruled by a society of Inners. Each making decisions and influencing the direction your species goes, without ever leaving their homes and houses. They are so attached to their own estates that they do not trust anything from the outside. Including other Inners!

Each of the Higher Inners that knew about this plan and project wanted to imprint their very own brand on it, so they could claim it was their meddling that lead to success.”

The Saresii scientist crossed her legs; ”The humans of this planet, have a saying that too many cooks ruin the recipe. This is exactly what happened here. Originally it was decided to use the DNA of a Xunx and alter it ,so it could be controlled. Nature developed a frightening fighting machine and if it could be controlled it would indeed make a perfect soldier. Of course another Inner disagreed and found the Nul much more suitable than the Xunx and through a scientist he controlled introduced Nul DNA into the project.

This meddling into the original plan continued and instead of eight scientists working together on one project, there were eight scientists working on their own projects trying to sabotage as much of the other work as possible. It is actually a little miracle that something was achieved at all.”

Nalka snorted. ”It might be as you say, but it tells me also that we Feron have brilliant scientists able to manipulate your work. It clearly shows that we do not need the aid of a disgraced and exiled Saresii who thinks his technology and wisdom is so much above ours.

There will be an Experiment Ten and it will succeed.”

The Saresii scientist actually laughed.“You call yourself an advanced species, Feron and yet you are nothing but a race of overbearing, delusional self important creatures. Do you think your plans are secret? Do you think we do not know of the Kermac plan to use you? I am neither disgraced, nor am I exiled. I am here to keep an eye on you.

Feron Ambitions are long known to almost everyone and we found it quite amusing that you spend so much energy in creating very flawed biological weapon that is neither practical nor controllable.”

Nalka became angrier by the moment and reached for his sidearm, to blast this arrogant Saresii, but the Blaster turned in his hand, the muzzle slowly rotated before his own eyes. His very own finger still on the activator switch no longer reacting to his own mental commands.

The Saresii became blurred out of focus in the background as his large black eyes focused on the muzzle of his own weapon.

The Saresii spoke and this time her voice was cold as ice. ”Do you really think you could kill a Saresii? You are nothing but a Feron.”

Nalka clearly felt his own finger move; he even heard the high pitched hum, a fraction of a second before the focused energy beam sliced through his head.

--

Peter had reached the end of the train and he was certain he had seen pretty much everyone riding it. Someone or something however had raised his inner alarm bells and he wondered if he just fell victim to his nerves.

He was not known to be nervous or the stressed kind, but the events of the past days had changed his worldview and shattered his believes.

He was traveling with two more than strange friends to New York. He could not shake the feeling that his trip to New York and his new friends were somehow connected.

He sighed and turned to make his way back to the train segment where his sleeper was located.

He trusted his new friends, especially Wulf but he knew next to nothing about Cloud except that he had incredible supernatural powers and saw the world with the eyes of a child. A dangerous combination to be sure! He put his worries to rest as he found his new friends as he left them in the compartment.

Wolf leaned comfortably back and held a can of coke. Cloud was, just like a kid glued to the window and watching the landscape go by and he sat down in his seat.

Wolf handed him a second can of coke.“Even the Coca Cola of your time tastes better than in mine.”

Peter laughed.“They keep messing with the original recipe and maybe by your time they have forgotten the real one.”

Wolf nodded.“This is probably true. Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Not really, this train is quite full and I might have missed him. On the other hand I am not even sure I was looking for someone in the first place. It was more like a hunch.”

“I understand. There is no high tech solution to replace a gut feeling even in my time.”

Cloud turned.“I think you are a very complicated species. You react and interact guided by feelings rather than facts. There is an emotion producing organ in your intestines?”

Peter cleared his throat and took a sip of the coke.“Telling that to a Texan could invite some real trouble.”

Wolf noticed Clouds puzzled face and explained. ”I think men of this area do not want to be the emotional kind. It goes against their rugged nature I presume.”

Peter sighed again.“We might as well go to the Restaurant early. I hear they do serve a decent steak on the train.”

--

Howard Packard switched his communicator off as he returned to their compartment. “Our three friends went to the Dining car. I had no problems bugging their rooms; we will be able to hear whatever they discuss.”

Jan made the thumbs up sign and then looked back onto his I-Phone and said to whoever was on the other end. ”You are good to go. Our suspects are on the train and well on their way! Go turn that place apart. I want to know everything there is to know about those three.”

Howard pulled a face and grunted.“I still think it isn’t right to break into the ranger’s house. He is a war hero, a respected law enforcement guy and he is an American. This is not why I signed up with AXIOM, you know.”

Jan hissed.“You are a wimp! We are above the law! We are here to defend the Planet from Alien Scum! Private rights mean nothing!”

“I tend to disagree and I will note my objections in my report.” “Do what you need to do. Mr. Smith sees it my way.”

--

Five men in dark camouflage, wearing head sets, night vision goggled and high tech weaponry advanced to the Front Door of the Double Wide.

They were pro’s, walking silently moving like shadows. Until the first got carried up to the front porch by an escalator, seemingly made of wooden steps!

He screamed more out of total surprise and stumbled headlong into the front wall.

“Charlie 2 come in! Why are you screaming?”

It took a few moments before the answer came.” Charlie 2 here, the bloody front stairs move, like a conveyor belt! That freaking Texas ranger has an escalator built in his front porch!”

Charlie One gave the signal and one of his men triggered the C4 charge that blew the transformer a little up the road. It would cut the rangers place completely off. But none of the night lights went out!

“Charlie 2 here. I think that bastard has a back up battery or something. I can’t hear a generator but he still has power!”

“Well out here it might be a good idea to have some sort of back up, but it won’t last forever. Just break in the door so we can search this place as ordered.”

It went quiet, then a flood light went on in the back yard and the team leader could hear one of his men curse over the radio.”He got flood lights on motion detectors.”

“Shoot out the damn lights. How long will it take you to get in that flimsy aluminum door?”

He heard several suppressed shots but the light kept on shining.” Don’t tell me you missed!”

“No Sir I hit the lights but the bullets bounced off!”

Charlie 2 from the front door reported.“I can’t even open that wind screen door not that I find a lock or anything. It simply won’t open.”

“Break a freaking window.”

“Sir this must be some sort of Lexan Plexi glass. I can’t break it.”

“Use a Charge!”

The leader of the team looked through his binoculars and saw his front door man place a breaching charge on the front door, take cover. With a sharp bang the Charge exploded, without any effect!”

Suddenly and out of nowhere a golden haired woman in a very slinky bikini appeared before the team leader and she said in a strangely accented English: ”Good evening gentlemen, I am the projection of residence sentry program Paladin 3000. After analyzing your behavior I came to the conclusion you are indeed unauthorized trespassers with the clear intent of gaining forceful entry.

If you are authorized by the system owner to gain access, please say the deactivation phrase now.”

The AXIOM team leader blinked at the almost perfect barely flickering 3D projection and he uttered.“What the fuck is going on?”

“Sorry Sir, this was not the deactivation phrase. Should you survive the Intruder elimination sequence, please be sure to recommend the Sentinel Corporations Paladin 3000 system to your neighbor with security needs.”

“Should I survive…?”

---

Wolf put another piece of steak into his mouth and savored its flavor as he got the message from BuB and the Sentry System and he asked aloud. ”Peter what is done with Burglars and Trespassers in Texas caught in the act?”

Peter just had polished the second steak, dabbed his mouth with the napkin and shrugged. ”Well officially you call the police and they get arrested and they get a trial and all that, but if they are getting caught in the act by the owner they could easily get shot. That’s why we don’t have as many home invasion robberies. In Texas the saying goes like. If you catch a burglar or trespasser on your property make sure he’s dead so he can’t tell his side of the story.”

Wolf flagged the server for his second steak.

Peter wanted to ask why Wolf came up with that, but then he got sidetracked as he stopped Cloud from eating the fork. ”Cloud we do not eat silverware. This is the third set! The waiter is going to think we are stealing them!”

Cloud pointed at the waiter.“It is his fault! He said enjoy each time he gave me these metal implements.”

--

Jan stared at his I Phone.” I can’t get the team to respond! They should be halfway through the search by now and they are not responding!”

“Maybe they found something and are still busy.” Howard suggested. “They are a well armed team; they would have called if there is a problem.”

Jan was not convinced.“They were supposed to call back. According to this their communicators are deactivated, they are not receiving!”

--

Wolf’s BuB interrupted a conversation he had with Peter as they returned to the Sleeper Compartments.” I am detecting active listening devices, broadcasting on the EM wave spectrum in this room. No such devices present earlier.”

Wulf thought back.“Probably the same enemy that tried to break into Peter’s house, before I can warn Peter about them we need to neutralize them. I suggest a broadcast of Thauran Hypnotic music in ultralow frequency below seven hertz. That should keep those listening very happy.”

The BuB agreed.

--

Harry Schulman cursed in his usual way as he bounced hard into the seat of the big Hummer. Next to him sat the two FBI Agents and he had to admit he liked what the rough terrain did to the chest of the pretty brunette. Up front next to the driver sat the Colonel. Phil had to remain in New York as a new homicide case kept him there. They had flown to SEATAC airport and were picked up by a black Hummer. The big kind, derived from the military Hummvee.

It was driven by a Native American with long black hair, held back by a leather band made of snake skin. Harry estimated the Native American to be around thirty. He had a sharp curved nose that somehow reminded him of a raptor bird’s beak and dark eyes. He wore blue jeans, moccasins on his feet and a Carhartt jacket over a maroon colored shirt.

Harry had noticed the huge Bowie knife at the man’s belt. He had spoken very little and after a lengthy drive over interstates and highways they had left paved roads over an hour ago, now they rumbled across a barely visible path in a dark deep green forest.

“Where are we?” Harry demanded to know for the third time.

The Colonel turned and said. “We are on Blackfoot reservation land. You are privileged to be here, don’t forget that!”

The Indian spoke for the first time. ”You are only here because the Colonel asked for this favor. I don’t like bringing outsiders here.”

“Big fucking privilege, bouncing around in the bloody outdoors, big deal. We didn’t ask to be brought here!” Harry snapped back. ”I thought we are going to meet some sort of mercenary team, a bunch of government trained killers helping us find Cherubim! I for one didn’t expect them to hide on road less Redskin land.”

The Hummer stopped as if it hit a wall. The sudden halt was not very kind to most of its passengers and tumbled them around. The Native American driver turned and held his big knife directly under Harry’s nose. ”You! Out of my truck, you will walk back. If I find you on the reservation by tomorrow, you will never leave it. This is your only warning!”

The Colonel tried to reason. ”Black Crow, he didn’t mean what he said. He is a stupid New Yorker. They all have a mouth like that. The President himself asked me to get the teams help on that.”

“The president has no authority here on the reservation. ”

Harry swallowed as the razor sharp blade drew blood from his nostril, but he didn’t back down. ”You better never set foot into my town. I am getting out and I find my way.”

Dr. Smith, the chief of Axiom still pretending to be a n FBI agent said. ”He won’t last a night out here, and it will get dark in a few hours. Can we not simply get on and meet the others, make our case and get on with the business. ”

The knife disappeared and the Indian said. “One more insult and you all walk.”

With these words he started driving again. There was no one talking, except Harry pressing a kerchief against his nose and muttering unfriendly things.

After almost another hour driving through that almost untouched forest of big trees and dark firs they reached a dreamy clearing of lush green grass and a serene lake, surrounded by forest and the Olympic peaks in the distance. There was a large block house and it looked as if it belonged there. It wasn’t a primitive affair but one of those log houses that cost a fortune. With large window areas, two stories for sure and a big rock chimney at one side.

Before the house five high end off road vehicles and to the left stood modern looking helicopter.

The Indian stopped the Hummer right before a broad flight of wooden stairs. A man looking pretty much like you would expect Paul Bunyan to look like. Red checkered shirt, suspenders and a black beard. He looked like one of those male monsters of the wrestling shows, next to him a man that could not look more out of place. Harry was certain you could not buy a more expensive suit anywhere on fifth avenue.

If the word slick would have a picture in the dictionary, it would be this man. His race was hard to pin down but Harry would have placed him somewhere in Puerto Rico or perhaps Cuba.

The Colonel went half up the stairs and motioned them to follow him.

Dr. Smith, Kate Johnson and Harry Schulman entered an expensive yet somehow homey furnished living room with an open fire in a chimney, furs, guns and Indian art on the walls. The leather furniture looked inviting. Another man stood behind a bar wearing a garish colored Hawaiian shirt. He was unshaven and looked overweight. ”Glad to see you again Colonel. Who are your companions?”

An Asian man wearing a black loose fitting suit came down a flight of stairs. “My unkempt friend let us show manners and provide our guests with refreshments. I think a bottle of Samuel Adams will do nicely for Harry Schulman, New York Police detective.

Perhaps a glass of Bordeaux for Kate Johnson, former FBI agent and now a rising star at AXIOM.”

The Asian man completed his descent and bowed slightly.” I doubt we have anything that would truly reflect the tastes and origin of Dr. Smith, but I heard you also favor a glass of good wine. Still pretending to be an FBI agent?”

Smith lost all color,.” Who are you?” was all he could get out.

He realized that this could all be an elaborate trap! He did find a black rose between his papers and maybe all this was staged simply to get him, and kill him!

--

Harry Schulman, his partner was gone. He went with the FBI agents and the Colonel to Washington State, where they would meet the Colonel’s men.

Phil really wanted to go along as well. He had a strong feeling that the Colonel and his men had at least some of the answers to the Cherubim mystery. It wasn’t very often he could have gone out of state on police business, but crime never slept in New York and he got the call of a gruesome multiple victim homicide and he had to take it.

He had been called by the MTA and the City Police to an unused Amtrak tunnel. It was a well known hang out for the homeless and while they did trespass, the subway authority sort of granted the homeless this space, mostly to avoid bad press and because they had no real alternative for the homeless of course.

Phil left his car and had to negate down a steep embankment littered with trash, rust shopping carts and car tires onto the track ballast. It was quite uncomfortable to walk on these fist size rocks.

Two uniforms meet him at the Tunnel entrance, one of them pointed down the tracks. “The actual crime scene is still about 500 yards from here, sir. We are trying to organize a rail car or something.”

He just nodded and entered the tunnel. It was as if he entered a different world. Moments ago he drove through one of the biggest towns on Earth, pulsating with life and lights and traffic, and with a few turns he was down here, beneath it all. Garish graffiti covered every inch of the walls, there was a steady wind coming from inside the tunnel and it smelled of decay and waste.

He made it to the crime scene. The ME was there as well as two Crime scene investigators and six Uniforms. Four men wearing high reflective vests with the MTA logo and helmets put up high powered lights. The yellow crime scene bands separated a gaggle of ragged looking homeless from the rest of the tunnel. He could see dancing flashlights further down the tunnel as well.

One of the Uniforms, a well respected sergeant with many years of service and experience greeted him with a disturbed facial expression. “It’s bad Lieutenant, very bad!”

“What do we have exactly?”

“Four bodies so far, homeless men slaughtered, ripped apart by someone or something. Most of their body parts missing.”

Phil had seen a lot in his many years with the New York Police department, but seeing bits and pieces of human anatomy splattered all over the place, placed a tight squeezing fist around his stomach and it took all his willpower not to give into the gagging reflex in his throat.

He forced himself to look closer and he did as he always did, take mental photos of the crime scene, often he saw something, something that didn’t belong there, some little thing that later pointed him into the right direction.

To the Medical Examiner he said after he got himself under control good enough to speak. ”I’ve seven hands, three feet a head, guts and gobs of flesh so far but nothing that adds up to a full body. Seven hands mean at least four victims but there isn’t enough or is there?”

“That what puzzles me too, Phil. No torsos, no legs or arms so far and, only one head.”

“What do you think was used to dismember them? Did they get run over by a train or something?”

“I am not sure what did it, or how it was done but I think it was done by large teeth or claws of some kind.”

“Claws and teeth? Don’t tell me the famous New York Sewer crocodile did that.”

“I am not telling you anything but that urban myth would sure explain all this!”

They were interrupted by a noise and they turned. The railroad had kept their word and a small motorized track vehicle came rolling from back of the tunnel, with its headlights on. It was about the size of a School bus and it would certainly help getting more equipment down here, and the body parts out. Phil suddenly had a strange feeling, the track vehicle moved very slow but it didn’t stop, it’s entire side was torn open as if it scraped by a gigantic hook there was blood everywhere and a headless body in Railroad uniform still sitting behind the controls.

From where the vehicle had come from, far back somewhere deep in the tunnels they all heard an eerie hollow sound, something that neither of them could really describe. Almost like a scream but nothing on Earth made such a sound…

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