In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 1, 1993
They had established a base camp on the outskirts of the marshland, where the ground was muddy, but not watery. The camp itself consisted of three trailers, a pair of wide tents and a decrepit-looking generator. That generator sputtered and whined as it powered the camp’s lighting and equipment. Men in night camouflage walked briskly between the trailers and tent, some carried clipboards, they all carried weapons. The air here was humid and thick with life. Something about it quickened John's pulse. He sat on the bumper of the van that had brought him, tracing shapes in the mud with the tip of his cane. When they’d arrived here Brian Hayes had told him, with a smile and a wink, that he was going to get Special Agent Wight. That was half an hour ago. Five more minutes. John decided, Five more minutes and I leave. I’ll hitchhike home if I have to.
If he tried to leave, would they try to stop him? Could they stop him? He eyed the pseudo- soldiers with a small twitch of a smile. There looked to be about twenty of them, give or take. They were all armed with 9 millimeter handguns, but a few were also carrying assault rifles. Ak-47’s by the look of them. An unusual choice but a weapon was only as good as the person wielding it.
Seven of them. I could kill seven of them before they brought me down. If I had the Metastasis I could bring them all down.
He wondered again where Angie was. What if this was all just some misunderstanding? What if she and her lover had decided to make a new start in some other city and left the pet behind by accident? What if she simply didn’t want the cat anymore? Drugs could warp a person’s personality. Perhaps cocaine had changed her. Did he even really know what she was like? Or was he in love with what he thought she was like? It might be she was nothing like he imagined. Phil would think he had gone insane, all this trouble over a waitress with ‘flap-jack breasts’!
But the simple fact was that he knew she was in trouble. He knew it in his bones.
Watching the bustle of activity he wondered what this later day Project Pharos was up to.
One of the trailer doors opened and Gawain strode out. Brian was on his right and a young woman with a pitiless expression on his left. They were all wearing night camouflage and flack jackets. “I want us broken into three teams and ready to move out in fifteen minutes. If our information is right we have to do this tonight or not at all.”
Gawain did a double take at the sight of John just sitting there. His body seemed to be caught between the urge to draw his weapon and the urge to run. He was afraid, actually afraid.
“What are you doing here?” Gawain asked.
John cautiously stood, “You had me brought me here.”
“I didn’t...” Gawain began, then turned to Brian, “You did this.”
“This is your special consultant?”
“Who better? Besides you said-”
“I don’t care what I said” Gawain struggled to keep his voice even, “You had no right!”
John stepped closer, “I don’t understand, I spoke to you on the phone just a few hours ago.”
Gawain shook his head, “No, you didn’t. Show him Brian.”
“John Sig. Good to hear from you.” Brian spoke, but his voice was a dead on imitation of Gawain’s. There was laughter in his eyes as he spoke again, this time with John’s voice, “If you’ve read my file than you know I don’t much care for inane small talk.”
“So I’ve been made a fool of is that it?” John fixed his gaze on Brian’s smug face, “All right, if that’s what it takes. Now the file, give it to me.”
“File?” Gawain shook his head, “What file?”
A sheepish smile tugged at the corners of Brian’s lips.
The woman stepped forward, placing herself between John and the bickering Special Agents. With her dark auburn hair and cool predatory features she reminded John of himself in his younger days. “John Sig, I’m Special Agent Blackwell. What say we get you some equipment?”
“Equipment? All I want is to know where I can find a woman named Angela Delvecco. The police said something about the DEA.”
“I promise you we’ll get that all straightened out but if you’re here you may as well help us. It’s a standard search and seizure.” Special Agent Blackwell shook her head, “Not that there’s anything standard about any of our missions.”
Did he dare to plunge himself back into the thick of things again? It was tempting, more tempting than another night alone in his empty house. “Agent Blackwell, you seem to have at least an ounce of common sense. I don’t know what these idiots are thinking but the plain truth is that there’s nothing I can do to help the Project anymore.”
Was it disappointment he saw in her eyes? Or was it impatience? The crickets were starting to sing and the other agents had stopped their preparations to watch their leader lose a shouting match with one of his subordinates. “John.” Agent Blackwell began again, with her right hand she self consciously caressed the leather of the holster on her hip, “Your years of experience alone make you an invaluable asset but in this case you may be perfectly suited for this mission.”
He found his attention drawn to her hand. She’s tensing up. John realized, She doesn’t know how I’m going to react. She thinks I might go berserk.
“You see, while we may have had some bad setbacks we have managed to get some inside information on some of the Monarchs’ plans. They’re planning to raid one of your people’s Great Houses. We’re going to get there first, we’re going to offer them asylum.”
John nodded absent mindedly as he tried to relax his posture. These morons were going to raid one of the High-Born’s Great Houses like it was some kind of a speakeasy? They’d all be dead in minutes. Except for her of course, she might be strong enough to be breeding stock. I should let them all march merrily off to their doom.
“Gawain was worried that you might not like that. He was worried that you might try to warn them we were coming or...” she shrugged.
In the background Gawain was still shouting and Brian was trying not to laugh. If Victor had a grave he’d have been rolling in it. John scanned his surroundings for signs that the High-Born’s had found them already. They were alone.
“Will you help us John?”
“Will you help me Agent Blackwell?”
She nodded, “I’ll get you your file if that’s what you want, and please call me Thalia.”
“Then I’ll do what I can to help you.” John said, “Please show me where I can get changed.”