The sparkling lights and fountains all
along the wall made the club look like a fairy tale. The booths
and chairs imitated the gondolas used to ferry lovers on a leisurely
tour through the canals. The walls were painted in bright colors.
Scenes of San Marcos square and other famous sites were depicted
on the walls allowing the revelers imagination to run wild. Several
huge spun glass chandeliers hung from the wooden rafters. Venetia
was a beautiful place and the club had only been open for about
three months and from the crush of people it was a popular place.
It was her twenty first birthday, she'd
been to clubs before but now she was legal and was very much
enjoying the Amaretto Sour she was sipping. The club was packed
standing room only and the music was just a touch too loud but
it had a wonderful beat and Alita swayed easily with the music.
At least ten of her friends were here
tonight celebrating with her and she planned on closing the place
down. Laughing as Jonas grabs her by the arm and spins her around
Alita follows him willingly onto the dance floor. Around her
people are swaying and twirling to the music, behind her at a
small table beside the dance floor a young man stands up, reaching
for his throat. Struggling to breath he falls forward onto the
table. Giving way beneath his weight the small table crumbles
sending glasses and bodies scattering. Landing face first on
the floor his body begins to shake. Around him the sounds of
screams and yelling break the magic on the dance floor. On the
other side of the room another reveler falls, this time a woman.
Breathing heavily, Alita watches as
another man falls several feet away from her. Gasping for air
Alita turns toward Jonas reaching, hoping, praying as her world
begins to topple. Around her the club turns to a kaleidoscope
of swirling colors as seconds later it deepens into darkness
as the floor rises up to meet her. Startled Jonas reaches for
her as she goes limp, settling her gently to the floor.
The club is a riotous mass of pandemonium
as people hurry toward the exits. Minutes later the police and
paramedics arrive. A tall dark haired paramedic immediately realizes
the magnitude of the problem and calls for back up. Motioning
for his partner to take the left side of the room he moves toward
the dance floor. Reaching the man he checks but is unable to
find a heartbeat or signs of breathing. Shaking his head he moves
on to next victim.
Kneeling down he gets his first good
look at her, in a startled voice he says, "Alita."
"Rico, what are you doing here,
never mind it doesn't matter, thank God your here," Jonas
Going to work Rico finds a pulse, weak
and thready, but a pulse nonetheless. Her breathing is labored
and Rico quickly starts her on oxygen.
Calling in to the hospital, Rico starts
an IV and preps her for transport as he looks around the room.
"Jonas," Rico asks, "what
"One minute we're dancing and the
next she's falling." "Is she going to be alright?"
"I don't know Jonas, but we'll
do everything we can."
"Did she eat or drink anything,"
"She had this little fu fu drink
an Amaretto Sour I think she called it," he answers, "it's
right there on the table," he says pointing.
Turning Rico looks at the table but
only a tall bottle of beer remains.
"It was there a few minutes ago,"
Jonas whispers, "she didn't drink very much of it before
I asked her to dance."
Just then a second team of paramedics
had arrived and Rico motions for their assistance. Transferring
her to the gurney, Rico hears loud voices coming from behind
him. Turning toward the voices he sees two men standing on a
set of stairs about twenty feet away. He recognizes the owner
of the club, Carlo is his name if he remembered correctly but
the second man he doesn't recognize.
Trying to pick out pieces of the conversation
Rico stands up. The crowd is still too thick and the noise deafening
and he is unable to hear them. Taking a step toward the stairs
he gets a good look at the second man, committing his face to
memory. He sees a tall man, his head shaved and his eyes a washed
out gray in startling contrast to his darkly tanned skin. The
suit he's wearing is impeccably tailored in a dark gray silk,
probably costing hundreds of dollars.
Looking up both men turn seeing Rico
watching, they immediately halt their conversation. A hard look
crosses the second mans face as he looks at Rico, assessing a
potential problem. Raising his head in dismissal he turns back
to Carlo. Reaching up he tightens Carlo's tie and flicks an imaginary
piece of lint from his shoulder as he whispers into his ear.
The look in his eyes is one of triumph as he steps down and walks
out of the club.
Carlo still standing on the stairs watches
as the big man struts out of his club, his body hunched in despair,
his whole attitude that of a beaten man.
With all the victims ready for transport,
Rico hurries out behind them.
Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, CA
Most of the room is steeped in shadows.
One light illuminates the table where Benny Ray sat cleaning
his already spotless rifle.
Feeling the vibration at his hip Benny
Ray pulls the phone from his belt flipping it open.
"Benny Ray," he says.
"Hey Amigo," the voice says,
"I could use a little help if you've got some free time."
"Sure Rico," he says recognizing
the voice, "Problem."
"Not sure yet," Rico answers,
"That's what I want to find out." "Can you meet
me at Club Venetia in about ten minutes, I'm at the back door."
"Roger that compadre," Benny
Ray answers, "See you then."
Hanging up the phone he turns gathering
up his gear. Twin Glocks rest comfortable in the holster beneath
Benny Ray's jacket. Three minutes later, he walks out the door
stepping into his truck. It was only a few minutes drive to the
Club. Parking besides the building he looks around spotting Rico's
car before getting out and heading for the back entrance.
Leaning against the brick wall beside
the back door to the club, Rico looks at his watch. He knew he
was early but was still impatient for Benny Ray to show up. Suddenly
the door beside him opens and a little man wearing a cook's apron
and carrying a large trash bag walks out throwing the bag into
the dumpster a few feet down the alley.
Shaking his head the little man mumbles
as he opens the door going back inside. Less than a minute later
the door opens again, only this time, two large men stand expectantly
with weapons pointed at his head. Grabbing him by the front of
his shirt they drag him into the building and up the stairs to
the office. Rico eyes the guard stand outside the door as he
opens it. Pushing Rico into the room they close the door still
holding their guns to his head.
Across the room the two men from the
night before, the club owner and the tall black man stand arguing.
Their conversation halts abruptly at the interruption.
"Well what do we have here,"
the tall man says turning around. Walking over to stand in front
of Rico his eyes take on a hooded angry look. "Ahhh"
he says, "I remember you, the paramedic from last evening."
"It's too bad you couldn't keep your nose out of things
that don't concern you, you might have lived a little longer."
Turning back his voice harsh and threatening
he says, "One last chance Carlo, take the deal or pay the
Rico could see the fear in the Carlo's
eyes but he could also see determination as he answers, "I
won't have your or your filth peddling drugs in my club Morgan.
I'm certainly not going to pay you for the privilege!"
"Suit yourself Morgan says a smile
crossing his face yet not reaching his eyes."
Opening the door Morgan walks out, standing
on the top step the guard beside him stands patiently awaiting
orders. On the landing Morgan pulls his shirt cuffs down and
smoothes his sleeves before saying, "Kill them."
Turning the corner toward the back door,
Benny Ray is surprised to see the alleyway empty. Reaching beneath
his jacket he pulls one of the Glocks from it's resting place.
Checking the handle he finds the door unlocked, opening it partway
he peers inside, finding the room unoccupied he silently slips
in. Hearing footsteps he backs into the shadows, as the little
man with the apron comes into the room only this time he has
a weapon tucked into the front of his pants. Reaching out Benny
Ray grabs the man around the neck pressing hard. "Where
is he," Benny Ray asks releasing him slightly?
"He's dead," the man answers
gasping, "and so are you."
"In your dreams," Benny Ray
answers as he hears one shot from above him. Struggling the man
tries to loosen the hold, but with a quick twist and snap, crackle
of bones the man falls lifeless to the floor.
Hurrying from the kitchen Benny Ray
checks the next room before moving in. The room is empty but
he can hear the sounds of struggling coming from above him. Taking
the steps two at a time he slams his way through the door. Seeing
one man standing over Rico a weapon in his hand, Benny Ray without
hesitation fires, catching the man in the head. Turning to his
right he fires again taking out a second man. The third standing
to his left leaps forward at Benny Ray a knife in his hand. Jumping
back Benny Ray throws his left arm up trying to fend off his
attacker. A fiery line of pain builds as the knife sears a path
across his left forearm. Bringing his right hand around he catches
his attacker in the side of the head. Stunned his attacker stumbles
backwards, lashing out once more as Benny Ray tries to move in.
Bringing his weapon up Benny Ray his
voice deadly says, "Put the weapon down now."
With the knife held high the attacker
smiles a slow grim smile as he launches it. Firing one-shot Benny
Ray watches as the bullet hits the man in the center of his chest
knocking him off his feet. Beside him the knife embeds itself
in the wall inches from his head.
Kneeling beside Rico he finds a pulse
and can see that he is breathing, finding no bullet wound. Across
the room he can see another man who wasn't so lucky, the front
of his blue suit dark with blood.
Pulling his phone from a jacket pocket,
Benny Ray calls for an ambulance. Dialing a second number he
"Major, Rico and I have run into
a little situation."
Explaining quickly Benny Ray answers
the Matt's questions as the police and paramedics arrive.
Sitting down abruptly he closes his
eyes as waves of dizziness wash over him. He felt like the world
around him was exploding. His mind and body felt like they were
being torn apart. God he felt like he was going to be sick, every
sound seemed to vibrate through his entire body setting it on
fire. He could hear them as they came through the door, the police
shouting orders the paramedics clamoring up the stairs.
Standing up just a little too quickly
Benny Ray sways sideways, beside him a paramedic steadies him
catching sight of the blood on his left arm. Moving in a police
officer catches him by the shoulder, trying to help. Anger and
resentment flare deep inside him as the officer makes him sit
on the floor. Fury engulfs him.
Confused by the sudden feeling inside
him, he shakes his head in bewilderment as he tries to understand
what's happening to him. Breathing heavily he watches the people
around him seemingly from a great distance.
Minutes later his arm wrapped Benny
Ray sits in the rear of the ambulance Rico on the gurney beside
him. Two officers sit beside him one on each side. Anger and
resentment again well up inside him, what the hell was their
problem he though. People's lives were in danger and I did what
I had to do. Closing his eyes he takes a deep breath. He knew
he was tired and hurt but the feelings inside him confused the
hell out of him. His fingers itched to tear something apart.
Mercy Hospital - 1045
Rico had regained consciousness. Matt
was glad to hear that he'd only sustained a mild concussion,
some bruised ribs and a few cut and bruises. The doctors wanted
to keep him overnight for observation - just to be on the safe
Rico was still a little groggy but had
no problems answering Matt's questions, especially the facts
about Carlo being killed because he wouldn't pedal Morgan's drugs
in his club
In the next room Benny Ray closed his
eyes trying to keep the demons haunting him at bay. But each
time he opened them he could feel the world close in around him,
his enemies ready to strike. His mind screamed in protest knowing
this wasn't right but unable to beat the darkness hovering around
him. Beside him the doctor puts the final stitches in his arm
wrapping it snugly with gauze. Lying on a bed his eyes open slowly
wandering toward the two officers standing at the foot of the
bed. The room disappeared!
Fury raged within him, they were the
enemy! Leaping off the bed he hit the first officer with his
body taking him to the floor. His attack was vicious and violent;
the two officers were clearly outmatched.
Hearing the scuffle Matt hurries out
opening the door to Benny Ray's room.
In disbelief he sees Benny Ray struggling wildly with the two
officers and two more orderlies who are unable to stop his rampage.
Entering the fray Matt tries desperately to get Benny Ray to
listen to reason, but the eyes staring back at him are filled
with frenzied hatred. Rearing back Matt deliver a bone jarring
right to his jaw and he lay still.
Kneeling down a syringe in his hand
the doctor reaches for his arm.
"No!" Matt yells.
"He went berserk," the doctor,
exclaims, "he nearly killed these officers."
Grabbing hold of the doctor's arm Matt
lowers his voice saying, "I know this man doctor and he
would never do this of his own volition. Something is wrong here.
Find out what the problem is before you fill him full of drugs!"
Rocking back on his heels the doctor
stills, thinking. Reaching into a nearby draw he pulls out a
syringe and several empty vials. Finding a vein in Benny Rays
arms he inserts the needle filling two vials then handing them
to the nurse. Barking orders he whispers Stat!
"Lets get him back on the bed,"
the doctor orders. From under the table he pulls a set of restraints,
attaching them to Benny Ray's wrists and ankles. Ten minutes
later Benny Ray is still unconscious as a technician rushes back
into the room the results in his hand.
Matt watches as the look on the doctors
face changes saying. "He's been drugged."
"Drugged," Matt says his voice
"The numbers here indicate a pretty
high dosage." From the combination of chemicals listed here,
it's a new drug, we really don't know much about it."
"It's slow to take affect but can stay in the system for
a few hours or even a few days, we just don't know enough. We've
seen a few cases in the last week or so. This drug is a little
different from the ones we've seen in the past. The taker becomes
violent and uncontrollable, as you've just seen. The drug enhances
the darker aspects of their personality. On the street they've
nicknamed it Dark Angel! We have two other victims upstairs now,
only they weren't so lucky, theirs was laced with poison."
Turning to one of the battered officers
Matt says, "Find that knife and get it analyzed, that has
got to be the key."
"What happens now," Matt asks?
"He will have to be restrained
or sedated the entire time." "My recommendation is
to keep him sedated, from his reaction a few minutes ago I think
it would be safer for everyone."
Laying his hand on Benny Rays arm Matt
sighs, his heart filled with sorrow as he looks at his friend.
Watching as Benny Ray's eyes flicker open his blue eyes staring
up at him. A wan smile crosses his face as he whispers "Major?"
"Here Benny Ray, Matt answers,
Matt watches in amazement as his friend's
eyes begin to change becoming darker his body thrumming with
resentment and anger. Testing the bonds at ankle and wrist he
once more begins to thrash around.
Behind him the doctor puts a hand on
his shoulder. Saying "Your choice."
"Do it," Matt whispers stepping
up to lay his body across his friends holding him still, yet
unable to look into the face of this stranger."
Beside him the doctor slides the needle
into Benny Ray's arm waiting as the drug slowly begins to take
affect. The thrashing lessened his eyes slowly closed as if he
is unwilling to give up the fight.
Silver Star Hotel
Day 2- 1400 hrs
The group assembled in the ops room
sat quietly grim expressions on their faces. Margo sat in front
of her computer gathering information. Beside her Nick sat mumbling
something about scum of the earth and paybacks. Rico sat carefully
on the small couch so as not to aggravate his bruised ribs. He
blamed himself for Benny Ray's current trouble. He never should
have gotten him involved. Both Matt and Margo had tried to make
him see, that he couldn't have stopped him. No one could have
known something like this would happen. In reality he knew it
was true, but it still didn't make him feel any less responsible.
Matt had called in a little while ago.
It had been almost thirty hours since the drug had entered Benny
Ray's system. He had regained consciousness again but nothing
had changed. He didn't recognize his friend. He fought a private
war, in a hell of his own making, the only enemy himself and
his dark consciousness. Matt was amazed at the ferocity and viciousness
of his darker side. On the outside he was all cool and calm with
nerves of steel. He would trust him in any situation and could
always count on him to be there when and if he was needed. If
these were the emotions and feeling he hid from the world, he
was glad Benny Ray was his friend and not his enemy.
Mercy Hospital 0645
They were all worried; each time he'd
woken he'd been the same, violent and hostile. During the last
two episodes the hostility had begun to diminish, but still he
didn't recognize anyone. They were worried, extremely worried.
The doctors didn't know enough about the drug to even predict
the long-term consequences. This was not your average designer
drug. Drug addicts wanted a blissful high, something that would
make them forget their cares and worries for a short period of
time. Dark Angel created havoc and violence. What possible purpose
could someone have for creating this kind of drug?
This time it was Margo's turn to keep
vigil. Forty-two hours, that's how long he'd been under the influence.
She'd talked, she'd hummed, she'd read, she'd told him all kinds
of wild stories but still no response. Her heart ached, but she
didn't know what else to do except be there when and if he woke
up. Opening her book once again she settles in the chair beside
his bed. The pages in front of her were a blur, her mind wandering
to the first time they'd met recalling his antagonism toward
her and it made her smile.
Lost in thought she didn't see him move,
all she heard was, "Hey Sweet Pea."
Turning she squeaked in surprise jumping
out of her chair the book falling un-noticed to the floor. "Oh
my god," she yells. "Your awake, your
A tired smile crosses his handsome face
as he replies, "I don't know who else I'd be," stopping
suddenly he sees tears in her eyes, "Margo," he queries?
Wiping the tears away she brushes her
hand across his cheek.
Reaching up with his hand he is surprised
to find them and his ankles in restraints. Looking up he sees
a rueful look on her face as he asks, "What's with the handcuffs?"
"It's a long story," she answers
"Well it doesn't look like I'm
going anywhere," he answers back. "How about getting
me out of these?"
Hesitantly she answers, "I
Reaching across she grabs the call button,
punching it hard several times. Less than a minute later a nurse
rushes through the door toward the bed with a syringe in her
hand. The look of surprise on her face is comical as she realized
he isn't struggling just laying there looking at her.
Stammering she says, "he's
"Yes, he's awake," Margo,
answers, "I don't think we need that."
Without a word the nurse turns and rushes
back out the door.
"This has got to be one helluva
story Margo," he says grinning.
"Do you remember anything about
Rico calling you and asking for help?"
"Yes," here he pauses, trying
to pull the fleeting memories from his mind before continuing.
"But the last thing I remember was seeing Rico laying on
the floor with a gun pointed at his head. The rest is a blur,
I remember a brief fight but that's about it."
Sitting on the side of the bed, Margo
begins the tale. Telling him about the club his part in rescuing
Rico and getting cut with a knife that had been painted with
a drug they called Dark Angel. Continuing she slowly tells him
about the last two days watching as the expression on his face
Behind her the door pops open and the
doctor walks through the nurse hard on his heels.
Winking at Benny Ray, Margo steps back
pulling a phone from her pocket dialing Matt to tell him the
After a lengthy exam and half a dozen
questions the doctor pulls a small syringe and vial from his
pocket. Sliding the needle into a vein in Benny Ray's right arm
he pops the vial in and fills it with blood then hands it to
Swabbing the area the doctor looks hard
at Benny Ray asking, "How do you feel?"
"Feel?" "What exactly
are you looking for doc," he asks in return?
"How do you feel, are you angry,
Margo standing behind the doctor draws
a deep breath as she sees the imp of mischief enter his eyes,
waiting for his reply.
"Frustrated, he exclaims!"
"You mean because I'm tied to this bed and if someone were
to release me the possibility exists that I might reach up and
grab that person by the throat and strangle him," here Benny
Ray pauses staring straight into the doctors eyes.
Stepping back the doctor mumble, "Yes,
something like that."
"No," Benny Ray answers with
a straight face.
Beside him Margo laughs swatting him
on the arm.
"Ahhh, a joke," the doctor
Reaching down the doctor unbuckles the
restraints at his wrist, while the nurse does the same to the
leather straps at his ankles.
Waving his right hand he asks, "What
about this thing," meaning the IV? "And when can I
get out of here?"
"Not just yet," the doctor
answers. "At the moment you need rest and time to flush
the rest of the drug from you system. That was one helluva ride
you took Mr. Riddle and I want to be sure your back to normal
before I set you loose on the rest of the world. Maybe in a day
or so, we'll see."
Getting ready to protest, beside him
Margo lays her hand on his shoulder, chuckling at the glowering
look he throws the doctor.
"If you need anything," the
doctor continues, "ring for the nurse. Heading for the door
he says, "but we'll need more blood in a few hours to check
the drugs progress."
Mumbling a few choice words Benny Ray
watches with hooded eyes as the doctor leaves. "I think
they enjoy torturing people, he grumbles into the room.
Margo grinning answers, "You've
had shots and been stuck before."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I
have to like it!"
Just then the door is pushed open as
the rest of the team stumbles into the room. Stopping they stand
silently beside the bed staring, mouths open. Just as quickly
they break in with a myriad of questions all at the same time.
Beside them Margo breaks into laughter at the stunned expression
on Benny Rays face.
"Whoa," Benny Ray shouts,
grinning. Watching as sheepish grins of relief cross the concerned
faces of his friends.
"I'm fine," he mumbles, hoping
they will quit asking, but knowing they probably won't. "Rico,"
he asks, "how's your niece?"
"No change," he answers, "She's
still in critical condition, but the doc's say it's not Dark
Angel keeping her there, it's the poison they mixed with it."
To the group in general Benny Ray asks,
"What have you found out?"
Looking into his friends face Matt turns
and nods to Margo.
"The guys name is Rafe Morgan,
he's X-DEA. He had a long distinguished career until one day
he just disappeared. The agency thought he'd been killed on assignment
or possibly kidnapped. They started an investigation but it turned
up empty no clues, he just dropped off the face of the earth.
At the same time a huge shipment of cocaine was stolen from the
DEA lockup. Investigators never put the two together until last
year. Morgan emerged over year ago, all reports say he's living
the highlife, fast cars, fast women and lots of money to throw
around." "But he hasn't been seen in the U.S. until
Rico saw him at the club a few days ago.
"Rumor on the streets is he's the brains and muscle behind
Dark Angel. He's head of a new Cartel peddling designer drugs;
headquartered in Bolivia. DEA reports have it that Dark Angel
has been released in only five cities through out the U.S. and
Europe. Experimental, yes, Dangerous, absolutely."
Sitting on the side of the bed Matt
looks closely at his friend, his face was pale and drawn and
there were dark bruises under his eyes, he looked exhausted.
The Dark Angel had definitely left her mark.
"Whoa, whoa," Matt shouts
into the fray, "I think the rest can wait until later. Right
now I think our friend here needs a little down time." Expecting
a protest Matt was prepared to make it an order. Glancing down
he saw a look of relief cross Benny Ray's face.
As they leave the room Benny Ray's face
breaks into a heartfelt smile as he murmurs, "Thanks for
Silver Star Hotel 1415 hrs
Hermosa Beach, CA
The doctor had reluctantly agreed to
discharge Benny Ray, but only if his friends were prepared to
keep a close eye on him, to which they agreed. The doctor had
once again asked how he felt. His answer of fine and just a little
headache seemed to satisfy him. But the doctor had also warned
him that traces of the drug were still in his system.
Earlier, Benny Ray, and Rico had sat
relaxing in the ops room, Rico had started to thank him and apologize
for saving his life and in the process get him hurt and drugged,
but Benny Ray had smiled and given him that look that said the
apology was totally unnecessary. He would do it again in a heartbeat
if it meant saving his friends life.
Now Benny Ray stood leaning against
the table, fiddling with the shell in his hand. Listening with
half an ear to Chance and CJ arguing. Rico sat alone across the
They all waited patiently for Matt and
Margo, knowing that what ever held them up was directly related
to their new mission, at least Benny Ray hoped it was their mission.
Finding Morgan and putting him and his drug operation out of
business would please him. Maybe he would even let a little bit
of his darker side out to take care of him. The thought sent
tiny shivers up his spine.
Walking across the room, Benny Ray sits
down beside the silent Rico. "You look like hell, he says."
"You don't look much better yourself
Amigo," Rico answers.
"Where's Nick, he wasn't at the
hospital yesterday, did the major give him a vacation?"
Turning serious Rico answers, "Nick's
on his way to Bolivia, he still has a few contacts in the DEA.
He looked pretty upset when he found out Morgan was involved."
"Does he know the guy, " Benny
"Said he knew of him, but had never
met the guy. Matt was reluctant to let him go. I personally don't
think he could have stopped him. The look on the guys face reminded
me a lot of you when you've got some bone to chew."
Just then footsteps could be heard descending
the stairs. Matt and a not always welcome face - Trout's follow
stepping into the room behind Margo.
Nodding hello his face grim, Matt calls
the team to order. "The DEA has asked for assistance with
finding and eliminating the "Dark Angel" cartel. Trout
here has asked for our assistance, any objections?" When
no one answers he continues.
"Two weeks ago, Dark Angel was
released in LA, DC, Paris, London and a small town in Germany.
It was administered through, drinks, food and even through the
water supply. The recipients all reacted the same, violent and
destructive. Innocent people were used as guinea pigs to test
this drug. Morgan has an agenda and a purpose for creating Dark
Angel we need to find out what it is. Our objectives are to find
and destroy the lab, bring Mr. Morgan back to the US for prosecution
on charges of Drug Smuggling, Money Laundering and Murder.
"There isn't a whole lot of information
about this new cartel. Reports have linked several highly placed
businessmen and politicians to the cartel but no actual evidence.
None of these men have ever been associated with drugs in the
past. They are wealthy legitimate businessmen. Why have they
crossed over now - Money - Power? We just don't know!"
The DEA has recently discovered Morgan's
compound in Bolivia but haven't yet been able to find the lab."
"Nick is currently in Bolivia working
to infiltrate the organization. If he can get close to Morgan
we have a good chance of finding the lab and keeping tabs on
him long enough for us to snatch him. Questions?'
Again no one answers.
"One more thing, Matt continues,
"it seems our Mr. Morgan has put a contract out on Rico.
He wants you dead my friend," he says looking at Rico. "No
witnesses, no one to place him at the scene. He knows you survived
he may know you had help. I want both of you to stay out of sight."
Grinning at the looks of protest, Matt
says, "But he won't expect you to show up in Bolivia so
I think we have a good chance of avoiding trouble. Either way
I'm not leaving you behind we need you on this mission! So pack
your gear we leave in twelve hours."
Nick rubbed his sore jaw as he sat on
the floor, the wreckage of the bar strewn around him. He hadn't
started the fight, but he'd sure as hell finished it. He'd been
pissed, when he'd first heard about Morgan, he felt betrayed.
Morgan had been his hero. He'd read every one of his case files.
Someday he'd hoped he would be half as good, only to find out
that Morgan was now a scum sucking traitor, dealing drugs and
murdering innocent people.
Fighting had taken the edge off his
temper but it really hadn't made him feel any better.
His contacts had informed him the bar
was a known hangout for drug dealers and thugs many of which
were connected to Morgan's operation. Earlier in the evening
he'd gotten semi-drunk and let it slip that he was out of work.
The company he'd worked for had been bought out and he hadn't
been pleased with the new management. But so far no one had taken
Picking himself up off the floor Nick
stumbles out the door. Turning the corner he stops short as three
men stand facing him. Recognizing the men from DEA photos, he
takes the aggressive tack. Crouches down into fighting position
his fists raised he yells, "You want a piece of this?"
The tall man in the center laughs before
saying, "No Mr. Del-Rio, we have a proposition for you,
work if your interested?"
Wary, arms still raise, Nick says, "What
kind of work?"
"Well, you handled yourself pretty
good in there tonight," the man says waving toward the bar,
"but we are more interested in your skills as a chemical
Without relenting, Nick says, "How
the hell do you know who I am and that I'm a chemical engineer?"
"Oh, we were in the bar earlier
when you mentioned you were out of work. Then I had you checked
out Mr. Del-Rio, and your qualifications are quite impressive."
Saying a prayer of thanks to Margo for
inventing his new persona and getting it to all the right places.
Nick lowers his arms and stands up straight.
"What kind of job," Nick asks?
Stepping forward his right hand outstretched,
the tall man introduces himself, "I'm Kane, this is Conley
and Hammer, dinner first and then we can discuss it."
The flight down had been long but uneventful.
Their contact a DEA agent named Sheri had met them at the airport.
Trout had given Matt her file and he'd been surprised by her
qualifications. With the DEA ten years, she was a decorated officer,
expert with small arms and trained in hand-to-hand combat. She
was fairly tall, slim and graceful with large expressive hazel
eyes and lustrous red - gold hair braided down her back.
Driving through a maze of streets and
alleyways she takes them to a small safe house. On the outside,
the house gave the impression of a run down little shack, but
on the inside it was clean and comfortable. The team was surprised
to find everything they needed, weapons, gear and explosives.
Margo smiled contentedly upon discovering the house was even
wired for access to a secure Internet service. The team spent
the remaining hours of the first day gathering information and
checking out their newly acquired gear. Everything was in readiness;
the plan would soon be put into operation.
It was nearly midnight as Benny Ray
slips out the back door, checking the area again. Silent and
unseen he moved through the streets and alleyways. That sixth
sense he had told him they weren't' being observed. But after
the events of the last week or so he wasn't sure he could trust
himself. Two days ago the headache had struck, hitting him like
a sledgehammer, almost knocking him off his feet. The glass in
his hand had shattered sending a shard deep into the palm of
his left hand. The doc had said there might be headaches or even
relapses into violent behavior he just hadn't been prepared for
the mind-ripping onslaught of the headache. It was like someone
had driven a spike into the back of his head. He couldn't see,
he couldn't hear, he felt like he could hardly breath. The pain
had lasted for barely a minute but it had scared the hell out
of him. Rico had bandaged his hand, but Benny Ray didn't tell
him about the headache he should have but something made him
hesitate. He'd made up some excuse about tripping but he didn't
think Rico had believed him. He'd caught Rico watching him a
couple times, a concerned look on his face, but truthfully he
didn't mind and it hadn't happened again.
Gathering the team, Matt discusses the
plan one more time. Gaining everyone attention he says, "Currently
we don't know where Morgan is. Rumors have it he's hold up at
his compound, while others say he is still in LA. We do know
that Morgan is a player, when he's in town there are several
restaurants and nightclubs where he can usually be found. He
likes beautiful women," Matt says. In the past he has taken
several of them to his compound for days at a time. As far as
the DEA knows they have all returned safely. He also has several
business partners here and routinely visits them. Either way
"Chance and Margo will remain here, it is more than likely
that he will show up sooner or later. When he does we need to
keep tabs on his movements. A Reception at the French Embassy
is scheduled for this evening. Many of Morgan's business partners
are on the guest list. Sheri in her capacity as liaison to the
American embassy was able to obtain four invitations and I have
every intention of being there."
Rico spent most of the day quietly grilling
Sheri about Morgan and his operation. She'd been more than willing
to share the information with him just unhappy with the fact
she didn't know much. He'd taken an instant liking to her. Her
calm quiet demeanor had a soothing effect on him and besides;
she had a great smile. They'd sat talking for hours. Rico had
looked up once to find Benny Ray and Margo watching them a quirky
little smile on their faces. He winked back.
...end of page 1