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Easter01's Father Michael's Saga

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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:30 pm

Well, okay, then!

Now, we're cooking!!! :D

...however, might I suggest caution all around? heheheheheheh



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:44 pm


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




Part 22

Cherie, you look absolutely magnifique!” Marcel exclaimed in a low voice. He and Simone were seated in a dark red 2016 Mini Cooper Convertible parked a few blocks down the street from the Dortmund Building in London, the top folded down. Simone was wearing a black silk blouse, cut rather low in the front with a choker of matched black pearls, and a straight black pencil skirt, all of which really set off her pale skin and light blonde hair. She had just applied glossy red lipstick, and a touch of eyeshadow accented her beautiful light blue eyes. Simone was dressed to kill, in a tastefully subdued manner. She pulled the visor mirror down for one last look, tucked in a stray hair behind her ear, and pushed the visor back up.

Further down the street, Michael sat on the left in the passenger seat of a parked nondescript dark blue Ford Transit Custom van with heavily tinted windows, André Thibodeaux behind the wheel on the right. Although they had brought their vehicles over from France, they were equipped to follow the English custom of driving on the left side of the road. The sword Tizona lay in her sheath on the floorboard between the two front bucket seats, blade pointing toward the back. Colette Roche was directly behind Michael, and behind her in the third row, two men hand-picked by André from the Directorate security force, also members of his werewolf pack. Beneath the seats were a couple of small, two-handled duffels and a backpack; they did not contain weapons, but a number of useful items they had purchased locally that afternoon.

Renée Dupont and her high-powered laptop occupied the back compartment of the van. Renée was having a little trouble repressing her excitement and assuming the professional demeanor of her colleagues, because this was her very first field assignment. She had just a touch of supernatural in her bloodline; her grandmother had been a full-blooded fairy and so Renée was one-quarter Fae. Her heritage had manifested in small ways, in her buoyant disposition, strict vegetarianism, and high level of nighttime energy, but she had inherited no supernatural powers of any kind. Kriger preferred to staff the Directorate with persons having some connection to the supernatural world, and thus more likely to accept the unusual nature of their work. Although a civilian rather than an agent, Renée’s technical expertise would be critical to the success of the mission.

All were waiting for the operation to begin. They had been given very little time by the Director to prepare. Velli’s note had suggested that time was a critical factor: “Act swiftly now,” it had read, and so now, less than twenty-four hours after the sword had been returned to Michael at the Lyon café, he and his team were waiting for the minutes to count down. The Director had decided, and Michael had agreed, that it would be best to keep the size of the strike team to a minimum. Only eight agency people would be directly involved in the operation.

This was going to be a “black” operation by necessity, because Kriger was certain that the British government was not in the mood to cooperate in a joint venture on British soil. The last such cooperative venture, the assault on the zombie factory of Marie Rose Saint-Just, had ended with the deaths of four London police officers. Moreover, Klaus Dortmund was a British citizen of considerable wealth and prestige, and the authorities would not favor an operation mounted against him on the sort of speculative evidence they possessed, never mind the supernatural aspects. As a result, the team had entered the United Kingdom surreptitiously on false passports, having made some minor alterations to their appearance, in order to avoid having their passports flagged at Customs and Immigration. It was not that they were on any sort of criminal or terrorist watch list, but simply to avoid coming to the attention of British officials who might wonder why so many members of an Interpol agency had come to their country.

It would be a very bad situation if the British authorities caught any of the team using false passports, certain to cause some sort of diplomatic incident. The necessities of the operation required them to maintain a covert presence in England, and so Kriger was willing to take the heat if they were discovered. This was his call, and there was to be none of that “Mission Impossible” nonsense about the agency disavowing any knowledge of their existence.

They had come over through the Eurotunnel beneath the Channel on the Shuttle, their vehicles loaded onto the train at Calais, France. None of them had been able to bring weapons, since all passenger luggage is x-rayed, and all vehicles closely inspected for contraband. Michael was able to bring Tizona and his ornate dagger into the country, although there were a few tense moments at Customs until he had been able to present his phony but convincing credentials as a dealer in medieval antiques. The trip beneath the English Channel had taken little more than a half-hour, and they were able to drive their vehicles off the train at the Folkestone Terminal on the English side in mid-morning.

There was one additional member of the team, one who was not part of Directorate 14, one whose official position in Britain would be sorely needed if things turned out badly for the team. Detective Inspector Ian Mackenzie of Scotland Yard was waiting in an unmarked police car about a block away; he would be in constant contact with the team during the operation, although he would not otherwise take part unless needed. The Inspector would be their escape plan if the operation went wrong. He would be able to use his authority to delay any response by the London police if alarms began to sound in the Dortmund Building.

Recruiting Mackenzie had required a considerable amount of persuasion. He had taken quite a bit of flak from his superiors after the zombie affair some weeks previously when four police officers had been killed. The authorities had been more willing to place the blame on Interpol and the Directorate than one of their own, however, and the Inspector had managed to emerge with his reputation and rank still intact. Michael had quietly contacted Mackenzie soon after their arrival in London, and arranged for a lunchtime meeting on the Thames waterfront a few blocks from Scotland Yard. Mackenzie had been rather reluctant, at first, to have anything further to do with D-14 and supernatural creatures, but at heart, he burned to have revenge against the person responsible for the death of his men and so Michael had been able to talk him into a supporting role.

Renée had been hard at work on her computer for most of the last twenty-four hours, going with virtually no sleep at all, fueled by strong French coffee, to gather the intelligence needed before they went to London and confronted the warlock. There had been a ton of material on Klaus Dortmund; he was a billionaire, one of the richest men in the world, and a power player in the world of high-tech electronics. There was, however, very little concrete information about the man himself, apparently a very reclusive individual, and no indication that he had any connection to the supernatural. It had been no particular surprise to discover that the construction blueprints for the Dortmund Building on file in the city did not completely correspond with the diagram Velli had provided. The official plans did not show either the deep, hidden space beneath the three-level subterranean car park (as such garages were termed in the United Kingdom) or the private elevator from the penthouse to the secret lair of the warlock.  

The trickiest part of the mission, for Renée, would be to hack into Dortmund’s security system. So far, she had been unable to break through. As the seconds ticked by toward the designated mission launch time, the team waiting patiently in their vehicles, she directed one unsuccessful cyber-attack after another at the building’s network with mounting frustration. Renée was a world-class hacker, and had been living very much off the radar when Kriger had located her and offered her a legitimate job with the agency, one that would make good use of her exceptional skills, but she had never encountered anything as tough as the firewalls that guarded this building’s security. Dortmund made his living in computer electronics, and his safeguards were as good as anything she had ever encountered, maybe even as good as the Pentagon. She bit her underlip, almost to the point of tears; more than anything, she did not want to let down the Director and these good people.

Suddenly, just minutes before the scheduled jump-off time, the last firewall came down, and she was able to insinuate herself smoothly into the network without setting off any alarms. Renée almost shouted in triumph. Quickly she collected herself, and simply announced quietly, “I’m in.” One of the men in the seat just ahead of her, Louis Reux, turned and gave her a “thumbs-up” with a big smile, while in the front, Michael gave a small sigh of relief. The men in the van had kept very quiet, making little conversation, knowing that Renée needed her full concentration to do what was needed to crack the net. Now that she had access to the security cameras, she located the ones in the parking structure, and most particularly the ones that watched the entry into the underground levels.

The most critical part of their hastily-conceived plan was how to gain access to the lower levels undetected, and this meant defeating the cameras, in such a way to make it look as though nothing was happening when in reality quite a bit might be going on. She had been able, earlier, to pull up information on the company that provided security for the Dortmund Building, and determine what type of system was in use there. It would have to be a hard-wired system, since wireless surveillance was just too easy to jam, even by relatively unsophisticated amateur criminals.

Dortmund’s security system employed a large number of Internet Protocol cameras, which used cables to tie into the building’s Internet. This was a much more versatile system than analog closed-circuit cameras, and protected against hackers by a series of formidable firewalls. But Renée was no ordinary hacker, and now she not only could control what the building’s security force was able to see on their cameras, she could also disable the alarms. Right now, she was busy creating a number of short video loops, which she could insert into the feed of specific cameras, that when activated would show nothing at all out of the ordinary taking place.

“Okay, I’m done,” she informed her companions. “I can interrupt the camera feeds in the car park and replace them with what I want them to see.”

André Thibodeaux glanced at his watch, for perhaps the hundredth time since they had arrived in their present positions, and relayed this information to Marcel, who was also waiting impatiently in the little red Mini about fifty meters further up the street, listening through his earbud to hear when Renée had succeeded in her important task.

Marcel turned to Simone, literally grinning from ear to ear. “Well, mon chaton, it’s showtime!”

It was precisely seven p.m.


THE WARLOCK EXECUTIVE
continues with Part 23
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Last edited by Easter01 on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:05 pm; edited 1 time in total




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

Easter01's Short Stories can be found: Here

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Broomhilda61
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PostBroomhilda61 on Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:07 am

Omgosh just got done with part 20 bravo runcircle but I am so far behind..

That part 20 ended with a blast lol..

I love, love your stories..this would make an awesome book..and a big seller lol.. ymd



Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:43 am

Ah, Joanne...

...you and Richard are devilish, indeed!

I'm ahead of Sam, and soooooo impatient! LOL

I want to gobble up this story like the vamps want to gobble up all the blood! hehehheheheh :D



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:00 pm


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




Part 23

Marcel leaned over and gave Simone a long and sensual kiss, squeezed her neck affectionately, and then unfolded himself out of the Mini. She shifted into first gear and, checking her mirror carefully - it would not do to have a traffic accident at this stage of the game - pulled out into the street. Her fiancé stood waiting in the empty curb space for no more than seconds before the dark blue van pulled up beside him and the side door slid open. He climbed into the back and pulled the door shut, and the van sped off, close behind the Mini.  

Simone handled the little car expertly, shifting smoothly as she maneuvered through traffic. The Mini was a pleasure to drive; in fact, her personal car was a Mini very much like this one, except silver in color. In France, as in the United States, cars drove on the right, and so there might have been some slight awkwardness in having the steering wheel on the right side, but she had practiced with this car for about an hour in a parking lot in Lyon until her reflexes were automatic. The Dortmund building was only a couple of city blocks away, and the traffic light at this hour, so in only a few minutes they had arrived.

The Dortmund Building was no architectural showcase, being more-or-less an upright rectangular box of thirty-five stories, a somber-looking structure clad top to bottom in a black-tinted glass curtain wall. Although at 160 meters in height, it was overtopped by many other buildings in the London metro area, it visually dominated the skyline of the block on which it resided. The building’s footprint was eighty meters by fifty; access to the three-level underground car park was via a street-level ramp that was equipped with a guard booth and a barrier gate with a mechanical boom arm. Over the garage entrance was a sign in large letters that read:

PARKING
Permit or Visitor Pass Required

The entire building was occupied by the Dortmund Power & Automation Group. Employees of the company would simply swipe their cards at the gate, which automatically raised the boom to allow them to enter or exit. Visitors, however, had to check in with the guards at the gate to obtain a temporary parking pass, which, when swiped, recorded the log number and the times of arrival or departure. This information had been determined by Renée during her online research on the giant corporation, along with high-resolution satellite imagery and several panoramic street-side views that were readily available on the Internet using a popular virtual globe utility program.

As she approached the garage entrance, Simone flipped on her turn signal, announcing her intent to other vehicles, and, at the exact same moment, Renée inserted the thirty second, seamlessly looping shot of an empty entryway. She had, carefully, and with great difficulty, managed to capture a clip in which the street visible outside was devoid of vehicles, so anyone watching the footage in the building’s security operations center would not see the same cars passing by, over and over. Even so, a long period in which the street view remained completely empty would be nearly as suspicious, so they had to move quickly.  

The Mini pulled into the entryway and came to a rather abrupt stop before the gate, as if the driver had not been expecting such a barrier. The guard in the booth beside the gate, wearing a blue uniform with the Dortmund logo on his breast pocket, slid his glass window open, and then his eyes widened slightly as he took in the sight of this delicious young blonde creature in an expensive and sexy dress, driving a jazzy red sports car. Behind him, his colleague was watching the bank of monitors that represented the cameras mounted throughout the three levels of the parking structure. He frowned slightly at the view of the entryway, which had become fuzzed with static, and reached out to tap the glass of the monitor with his finger. The views on these monitors were duplicated upstairs in the security center, with this one exception. Obviously the view of the entry in the guard booth could not be empty, since there was a car sitting in it right now. The talented Renée was very busy right now, juggling many plates.

“Can I help you, miss?” The guard at the booth inquired politely. “Who are you here to see?”

Excusez-moi monsieur est-ce pas l'Hôtel Intercontinental?” Simone rattled off in rapid French, batting her eyes at him shamelessly. The man was staring down appreciatively at the curving landscape of her bosom from his slightly elevated position.

He recovered quickly and became politely professional again. “Umm…I am sorry, miss, I do not speak French. This is not a hotel, if that’s what you’re asking. This is the headquarters of the Dortmund Group.”

“Dortmund Group? Qu'est-ce qu'un Groupe de Dortmund? J'essaie de trouver…I am…looking? Yes, looking…for…hotel mine?” The girl was clearly flustered and getting upset. “So many streets…they all look alike, no? Si confus! ” The man could swear that, any moment, she was going to break into tears. He would love to buy this beautiful girl a drink and give her some consolation, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen, not with this woman in her expensive dress and jewelry. Besides, his shift wasn’t over until eleven. Regretfully, he decided he needed to end this conversation, as charming as it might be, and send her on her way before other cars showed up at the entry, even though it was after hours.

“Ah, excusez-moi, mademoiselle,” he said, “vous avez…the wrong place.” He spoke slowly and loudly, as people tend to do to foreigners and the hard-of hearing. The man was proud that he could remember that much French, at least. “You have to go.” He pointed back out the entryway, hoping that she got the picture.

The girl appeared to understand at last, and reached down to the stick-shift. He rolled his eyes as she managed to put it into reverse with a grinding of gears, and with only a quick glance into her rear-view mirror, let up on the clutch. The Mini jerked backwards, just in time to collide with the front bumper of a dark blue Ford van that had, just at that moment, pulled in behind her. The guard swore, and the blonde in the Mini exclaimed something that he was sure must be very unladylike language. The door of the van opened and the driver stepped out, a tall and rather stern-looking man with a military haircut.

Behind him, the other guard looked up from the monitors. “What’s going on out there, Fred?”

“Got an accident at the gate. I’ll be back in a moment, soon as I get this straightened out.” Fred pushed the button to raise the boom arm and stepped out of the booth. His companion got up from his seat in front of the monitors and came to the window to see what was going on.

As André made a show of inspecting the bumper of the van for damage, Fred walked around to the right side of the car to speak to Simone. “Miss…would you drive forward, through the gate? Park in the visitor’s space beside the booth.” She only looked at him with bewilderment. This woman was becoming less enchanting by the moment, he thought, and turned to André, who had finished his examination and now was standing beside him. “Sir…by any chance, do you speak French? This lady does not seem to understand English very well.”

The security chief looked at him and said innocently, in perfect Cockney, “Sorry mate, I don’t speak a word of Frog.”  

The guard turned back to Simone, and with exaggerated gestures indicated that she should pull forward through the gateway. Now she rolled her eyes, obviously put out, and shifted into first, again accompanied by a clashing of gears which made Fred wince. She popped the clutch and the car lurched forward a few feet and stalled. Muttering under his breath, the guard demonstrated with his hand that she should start the car again and give it another try. At that moment, André asked the guard if he had called the Metro police, diverting his attention. Simone  reached under the dash and inconspicuously flipped a switch that had been installed before they left France.

In the back of the van, Renée was sweating. They needed to finish this little comedy up quickly. If it went on for much longer, someone up in the security center might notice that the camera with the street view had not shown any activity for a curiously long time.

Impatiently, Fred motioned for her to try again. Simone turned the ignition key, and the starter cranked and cranked, but the engine would not catch. Unknown to him, the hidden switch had cut off the fuel pump, so it did not matter how long she held the key down, the engine would never start.

By now, Fred was desperately wishing that this female, no matter how attractive she was, had never showed up at his garage. Feeling a lot less polite, he made a chopping motion with his hand for Simone to desist in her efforts to start the car, and turned to the booth, where the other guard was smiling, highly amused at his colleague’s distress. “Kenny, get out here. We are going to have to push this thing out of the way.” Without a word, Kenny merely raised his eyebrows and started for the door of the booth.

Fred pointed to the gearshift. “Miss, please put it in neutral, would you?” Evidently she caught his meaning, because she immediately complied. The two men got behind the car and began to push. Despite its small size and light weight, the car did not move. Fred and Kenny stood up. Fred walked back around to the driver’s side of the car and looked in. “Christ, miss, you’ve got the parking brake on!”

She blinked in confusion, blue eyes innocently wide. “Qu'est-ce qu'un ‘parking brake’?”

Exasperated, Fred leaned over into the car to point at the designated apparatus. “That is…” he started to say, and stopped abruptly when Simone reached up and stabbed him in the neck, directly into the muscle, with a small syringe loaded with succinylcholine, a paralytic agent similar to curare in its effects, but safer. “What…!” he started to say, and then she threw her arm around his neck and pulled him down against the door frame, holding him tightly while the drug rapidly began to induce muscle paralysis. At the same time, André turned to Kenny and punched him in the stomach, very hard, knocking the wind out of him so that he doubled over, clutching his abdomen and unable to offer any resistance. Marcel threw open the side door of the van and scrambled out, followed by Colette and the two other security men, and they quickly moved to help André hustle the two guards inside the booth, out of sight.

As soon as Fred had been taken off her hands, Simone reversed the fuel pump cutout switch and turned the car’s ignition. After a long moment in which she thought maybe it would not start for real, the motor caught, and she threw it into gear and drove it forward into the garage, pulling into an empty parking space about fifteen meters inside, shutting off the engine and getting out. She stood by the car, waiting for the van, now driven by Michael, which had followed her inside and now stopped beside her, the side door still open and the engine running. Colette and Marcel trotted over from the entry and stood beside her, all carefully scanning the parking level for any evidence that the activity at the booth had been observed. Both vehicles were now out of view of the cameras at the entryway, but Renée could not yet return the cameras here to a live feed, not until the action at the booth was over.

Inside the booth, the two Dortmund guards were quickly bound with a roll of duct tape that had been inside one of the duffels in the van and were tucked out of sight beneath the counter at the window. André reached into his shirt pocket and extracted a small syringe. He uncapped it and leaned down to give an injection to the man who Simone had incapacitated with the paralytic. The man was having some trouble breathing, which was to be expected, and was why the security chief had not put any tape over his mouth, not yet, at least. For the moment, the man was incapable of moving, let alone speaking. André’s syringe contained pyridostigmine, which would soon counteract the effects of the succinylcholine. They did not want to hurt anyone, after all, or at least not badly, since these booth guards were probably just working stiffs doing their job and had no idea what their employer, Dortmund, was actually up to.

The other two men of his team, Julien and Louis, were already wearing uniforms identical to those of Fred and Kenny, right down to the Dortmund logo on the pockets. They would be manning the booth for a time, while their comrades carried out the rest of the operation, so that all would appear normal to anyone who might come by. Both spoke flawless English, one reason that Thibodeaux had selected them; he only hoped that no one from the building would come by and recognize them as not belonging. The guard’s shift was not due to end for nearly four hours yet. He straightened up and put the cap back on the empty syringe, returning it to his pocket, and then nodded toward the paralyzed man.

“We’ll keep an eye on him, sir,” Julien reassured him. “Soon as he’s breathing a little better, we’ll get some tape on his mouth. You go do what you need to do, and good luck to you! Please do kick his butt, for me.” Although everyone in the Directorate was grieving for lost comrades, and the men killed at Meursault had been members of their pack and close friends, they had a critical job to do now and would mourn later. The Mini Cooper had been left for them, should they need an escape vehicle later. Both the Mini and the van would be abandoned in London; neither vehicle was traceable to the Directorate.

André smiled grimly and nodded back, and then left the booth, swiftly covering the short distance to the van. Seeing him coming, the two agents and Colette scrambled inside, and as soon as he reached the vehicle he did the same, forcefully sliding the side door shut. Michael fed gas to the engine and took off, taking the ramps down until he had reached the lowest level. As soon as they arrived at their destination, the bank of elevator doors, Renée killed the loops for all of the cameras on the upper two levels, allowing them to return to normal operation, heaving a silent sigh of relief as she did so.

Michael found a parking space very close to the elevators and eased the van into it, and then turned off the ignition. “Well, here we are.”

André turned around in his seat and addressed Renée. “Inform the Inspector,” he directed, and then slid the van door open again. The three men of this operational team, André, Michael and Marcel, and the two women, Simone and Colette, got out of the van, extracting the backpack and duffel bags as they did so, and together, they turned to look at the elevator doors.

“That warlock skum is down there,” Colette said, her expression cold and fierce. “It’s time for him to pay for what he did.”

In the back of the van Renée, who would keep the seamless video loops running on this level to conceal their movements, and who would assist in other important ways as the operation progressed, sent a text message to Inspector Mackenzie, who was waiting patiently in his car a short distance from the Dortmund building. He was very much hoping that his services would not be needed, and this mission by the Directorate would not turn into a bloody balls-up like the last one.

His phone beeped, and he opened it to find the message waiting for him. “Stage One complete. No problems. Now beginning Stage Two.”


THE WARLOCK EXECUTIVE
continues with Part 24
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Last edited by Easter01 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

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Broomhilda61
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PostBroomhilda61 on Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:58 am

Oh my..what a predicament that Warlock is in now hehe...just got done reading part 21.. HappyDay
Thank you Joanne..I am looking forward to reading the rest.. runcircle ymd

I'm still your favorite fan.. f



Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:47 am

Come on, Sam, lol... catch up! :D

Joanne... faster, faster!!! LOLOLOL



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:52 pm


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




Part 24

The five members of the Directorate strike team stood in front of the row of three elevators, or “lifts” as they were called in Britain. All were wearing black denim jeans and black tee-shirts, Simone having changed in the van from an extra set of clothing in one of the duffels. Michael had foregone his usual cassock for this operation, and now had Tizona in her scabbard slung diagonally across his back, the hilt protruding above his left shoulder where he could seize it quickly at need. This and the dagger in his boot were the only weapons among them all, since smuggling guns into Britain or attempting to purchase them here was just too risky. Over the sword, he wore a small black backpack, and on his forehead was an LCD electric light, held in place by an elastic strap.  

Marcel and André were carrying the two small duffels that had been stashed in the van. These contained a few items that would be needed, but were mostly empty. The bags would be used to stash the clothing of the shape-shifters, to be retrieved as soon as they had carried out their attack on the warlock. It simply would not do to have four naked people strolling down the streets of London, nor were-panthers or werewolves.

The elevator shafts were the key to breaking into the warlock’s secret lair. They knew its location, from the marginal notes the vampire Velli had penned, in tiny script, on the hand-drawn diagram he had sent. His hideout was connected to his office on the thirty-fourth floor and to the penthouse above, but had no other access within the building. The official blueprints Renée had obtained showed that the Dortmund Building had two separate banks of elevators, as required by law for large office and other high-rise buildings. For this building, the elevators were located at the opposite ends of the structure, front and back. Both sets would convey employees and visitors to and from the parking levels, but access to the warlock’s secret space was provided only by a concealed shaft in the rearmost set.

The number of elevator cars that could be housed in a single shaft, known as a “hoistway,” was set by building codes. By law, no more than three adjacent cars could move up and down through a single hoistway. The Dortmund Building had been designed so that two sets of three high-speed elevator cars could handle the daily traffic. On the front end of the building, this had been accomplished by the construction of a single, three-car hoistway made of poured concrete reinforced with steel bars. The presence of the warlock’s private elevator car at the rear of the structure, however, meant that there would be four adjacent cars in the grouping. In order to secure approval of the building inspectors, there had to be two separate hoistways, side by side, to house these cars. Three of the cars were public; the fourth was the warlock’s alone.

This was accomplished by construction of two adjacent hoistways that each accommodated two cars. For the Directorate operation, the beauty of this arrangement was that the warlock’s secret elevator door, in the hidden level, could be accessed from the bottom of the hoistway that also contained a public car. This was a significant mistake on Dortmund’s part. The building regulations would have allowed an arrangement of two hoistways, one of which housed the three public cars, the other holding only the private car, and there would have been no practical way to get into the private shaft short of using explosives or powerful tools to cut through the reinforced concrete in between.

They were standing in front of the elevator door furthest to the right. Immediately to the right of this last door was nothing but a blank concrete wall, but they knew that the shaft for the warlock’s private car was right behind it. André rummaged around in his duffel and extracted a rod about fifteen centimeters long, with a “tee” handle at the top. This was a drop key, used by building inspectors, emergency personnel, and maintenance workers to open the elevator’s exterior doors to access the shaft. Such keys were only sold to authorized personnel, since it allowed a person to open the doors right into an empty shaft, but Mackenzie had been easily able to provide one for them despite the short notice. He did, however, want it back, if possible.  

André spoke into the microphone clipped to the collar of his shirt. “Renée. We’re ready.” In the back of the van, Renée used her control of the security system to take over the elevators, and instructed the two elevators in this hoistway to go up one floor, and locked them in place. André inserted the base of the key into a small hole near the top of the right-hand elevator door, and turned it to release the door locking mechanism. The doors could now be easily pushed apart, giving them a view down into the elevator pit. Exactly where they needed to go.

They looked down into the pit, which was illuminated by light bulbs in waterproof housings at either end, and then at each other. This was it. None of them knew what they would find when they broke into Dortmund’s private sanctuary. Michael had visions of a vast cavern, a true warlock’s lair, filled with enormous stalactites and stalagmites, bats swooping among them with shrill cries, torches burning on the walls, perhaps a sacrificial altar in the center. The reality would probably be nothing like he could imagine. For all they knew, they might enter to find a vast horde of savage demons that would overwhelm them effortlessly, or the powers of the warlock might be so great that he could obliterate them in the blink of an eye. No one on the team had any illusions that they would survive this encounter unscratched, or perhaps even at all.

“Cheer up, mes amis!” Marcel said quietly. “We are: two magnificent panthers, two fierce wolves, and a priest with a magic sword that utterly destroys demons.” He grinned in that disarming way he had. “He won’t stand a chance!”

“Humph,” André said. “Well, if you need help…just meow.”

Marcel, standing beside him, poked him in the ribs with his elbow. “And you’ll come running, with stupid face, wagging your tail?”  He paused for effect. “More likely, you’ll need us to save your butt. Again.”

They fell silent, and the grins faded. Rolling her eyes expressively, Colette pushed her way in between them. “If you two boys can stop being cute, we have work to do.” She turned around and started down into the pit, climbing the metal access ladder that hung just below the threshold. André and Marcel tossed the bags down after her, to the side, where they hit with soft thumps. One at a time, they followed her down, until all were gathered at the pit bottom. The pit floor was about two and a half meters down, and the surface was interrupted by two buffers, cylinders about twenty centimeters in diameter and a little over a meter high, that served to cushion the impact from a rapidly descending car in an emergency. The elevator car hung ominously over their heads, though all knew Renée would not let it come down and, in any case, the bumpers assured that there would be sufficient room beneath the car even if it did.

Silently they made final preparations. Michael shrugged out of his backpack and fished out some tiny electronic devices that were now needed. The four shape-shifters began to undress, placing their clothes into the duffel bags, and then made the transformation into their animal forms. The bottom of the pit seemed a bit crowded, with the massively muscled but sleek bodies of the panthers, and the two werewolves in the confined space. Simone came over to Michael, and rubbed against his leg, and then turned her head up expectantly. He took one of the items in his hand and carefully placed in the ear of the great panther. These devices were receivers, that had been carefully fabricated, albeit in something of a hurry, by one of the tech wizards at the Directorate, made to fit comfortably in feline and canine ears. There was no provision for a matching transmitter, since assorted snarls and hisses did not translate very well over the radio, but would allow Michael and Renée to communicate with them. In short order, all of the shifters were so outfitted.

The priest spoke into the collar transmitter that he wore, along with an earbud receiver. “Renée, we’re set. Give us a radio check.” She did so, and the panthers and wolves indicated, by nodding their heads, that everything was working properly.

It was time to face the warlock, and put an end to his plots. With Michael leading the way, they crossed the short distance to the other side of the hoistway to reach the door into the warlock’s secret lair. Michael froze, a look of dismay on his features, and pointed up to a spot on the wall about two meters up. There, plain to see, was a video camera.

“Renée!” he hissed, urgently but quietly. “There’s a camera here in the bottom of the shaft. Did you disable it, with the others?”

Her voice, when it came back, sounded upset. “Father, no, I had no idea. It’s not part of the network, there was no indication it existed! It must be a separate system he set up to keep an eye on his private door!”

Michael turned to his friends. “He knows we’re coming.”


THE WARLOCK EXECUTIVE
continues with Part 25
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Postpoppy100 on Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:41 pm

    It's time for my hug for you again  Easter01   cutehug   ...
                                                                                                                                           giggle


thanks for your lovely siggie Crissi  hugsmilie 
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:37 pm

Hi anneke,

Thank you so much for the hug.

Joanne

:girlie5:




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PostBroomhilda61 on Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:19 am

Part 22 done runcircle that was intense lol.. runcircle

You have made my day again girl ymd

Thank you so much Joanne.. pray



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Postszanne7000 on Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:02 am

Sam, you do need to catch up, lol :D

Joanne...

...you and your hubbie are masters at making me impatient! ROFL



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PostBroomhilda61 on Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:03 am

I'm working on it..lol..

And yes Joanne and hubbie are masters..not just at making us impatient but creating these stories..I am still in awe of them and still their biggest fan.. summer011 summer09



Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
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PostEaster01 on Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:44 pm


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




Part 25

The operation had suddenly become a whole lot more dangerous. They had counted on the element of surprise to give them an advantage at the start, at least, but if the warlock was watching them on camera, he would be ready.

“No help for it,” Michael said softly. There was probably no longer any need to keep their voices down, but it still just seemed to be a good idea, regardless. No point in delay; one way or the other, they had to confront the warlock. He resheathed Tizona in her scabbard on his back and, reaching down to his boot, pulled out the dagger that had saved his life at Meursault. Clamping it between his teeth, he put his foot on the first rung of the ladder leading up to Dortmund’s private elevator door, and began to climb. This was likely the most hazardous part of the entire operation. He would be extremely vulnerable to attack as he opened the door from the inside, and for a time would unable to defend himself. Michael comforted himself with the thought that they were not even sure the warlock would be inside his lair. Perhaps he had stepped out to Starbucks for a quick latte, and they could just stroll in….

At the top of the ladder, he braced himself by hooking one foot inside the rung and reached up to disengage the door’s safety interlock mechanism. This was the same piece of equipment that André had unlocked on the other door with the drop key, from the outside. Michael winced as it made a sharp click and came free. He reached around to the back of his jeans and pulled out a small, flat pry bar, about twenty-five centimeters long, from where he had thrust it through his belt. He switched off his light and slipped the tool into the crack between the doors. As carefully and quietly as possible, he forced them open a couple of centimeters, just enough to peer through into the space beyond. There was nothing to be seen but utter blackness. A cool breeze blew through the crevice into his face, but whether it was from an air-conditioned room or a vast cavern chamber, he could not tell. Slowly he backed down the ladder.

Whispering, he informed his companions of the situation above. Both the panthers and the werewolves could operate effectively in low-light situations, the cats more so, but neither could see in total darkness. Michael took off his backpack again, rummaged around, and came out with a handful of pencil flares. These would burn with a brilliant white light for about ten minutes. Good thing they had come prepared for almost anything. As soon as he was up and through the door, he would pop the plastic lids off a couple, ignite them, and toss them left and right to light up the room. For now, he slipped them into his pocket.

Back up the ladder, the silver-palladium alloy dagger in his teeth, headlight still switched off in case they had not yet alerted anyone to their presence, Michael put both hands on the edges of the doors and slid them open, stepping through onto the landing. This was the moment of greatest danger. If anyone was waiting for them, they would have been alerted by the light coming through the slit of the door when he pried it open a moment ago, and now he would be a clear silhouette backlit by the light coming up from the hoistway pit.

Quickly he stepped off to the side, out of the doorway and out of the way of his companions. There was a whisper of sound as the panthers sprang up through the opening, and he felt, more than saw, their furry forms as they came to his side and brushed against him in greeting. Then they were gone, silent shadows, moving into the room, with just enough light from the elevator shaft to see their way. The wolves came next, landing more heavily and scrabbling with their feet to keep from falling back into the pit, and they, too, glided silently into the room.

Michael shoved the dagger back into his boot and took two of the flares out of his pocket and was about to ignite them, when the room was suddenly flooded with bright light, leaving him blinking in the glare. He dropped the flares unlit to the ground and quickly pulled Tizona, holding the long sword up and ready.

“You must be that priest who has been giving me so much trouble,” came a voice from the center of the room.

The speaker was a man dressed in an expensively tailored business suit, his hand clasped behind his back. The space in which he stood was enormous, square and easily fifty meters across, and was certainly no rough cavern but a sleekly modernistic chamber unlike anything Michael had ever seen before. The walls were silver grey, the ceiling starkly white, and the illumination came from what must have been nearly a hundred recessed fixtures overhead. Additional lights, in chrome sconces, lined the perimeter of the wall.

The most striking feature of the room, however, was the floor. Michael stood at the edge of a broad band of some dark stone, highly polished and speckled with tiny inclusions, lighter in color. Black granite, he supposed, although he was no expert in either geology or architecture. The granite was a border that went all around the room, perhaps twenty meters in width. The central area of the vast space was dominated by a chessboard pattern, black and white squares each about two meters across. Dortmund, whom he supposed this must be, was standing on a black square near the center of the giant chessboard. Near the far end of the room, across the chamber from the elevator door, was a large black stone, taller than a man with squared-off sides that came to a pyramidal point at the top, and beyond the stone, there were several doors in the wall that presumably led to adjacent rooms.

The two panthers were together at the edge of the chessboard, crouching low, tails lashing, ready to spring forward in an instant. The wolves were slowly circling around the perimeter, lips curled back to expose sharp teeth, but like the were-panthers, as yet made no move toward the warlock.

Michael kept his sword up, holding it in both hands. “I am Father Michael Mendez,” he said, wariness in his voice. I assume you are the warlock, Klaus Dortmund.” It was not a question.

Without looking at the animals, Dortmund said, sharply, “Tell your pets to be still! Their posturing is beginning to annoy me.” One of the panthers rumbled angrily; Simone, Michael thought, although sometimes it was hard to tell them apart at a distance. The wolves narrowed their eyes and stopped circling, coming back to the front of the room where they stopped, not far from Michael, and glared at the warlock, legs stiff, hackles bristling and tails straight out from their bodies. Still paying no attention to these four very dangerous and infuriated animals, Dortmund continued. “Warlock…yes. I am that, I suppose. But, I am a businessman first. If someone opposes me, I eliminate the threat. I use the tools I have. That is just good business.”

Michael was astonished that the man would use this as a justification for his acts. “You are responsible for the murder of a great many people. Some of them were my friends. That was an evil act, not ‘good business.’”

Dortmund smiled, but there was no humor in his eyes. “Your Director should have known that interfering in my business was a very risky thing.” He paused. “I see that you are carrying that antique sword again. I find that to be a very interesting thing. I believe I am going to have to have a conversation with an old friend about that.”

Before Michael could reply, the warlock made a chopping gesture with his hand. “Enough of this! You have invaded my home, and now you will pay the price.” He extended his right arm up into the air and snapped his fingers.

From one of the doorways in the back of the room, two imposing figures stepped out, and Michael’s heart sank even as Tizona began to glow in response. The demons trotted across the room. Each was slightly more than two meters in height, and the ceiling lights sparkled off the hundreds of crystalline spikes, large and small but all razor-edged, that covered their bodies. Deep-set yellow eyes glowered from within the crystalline mass that formed their heads. Spike demons! These were, in his experience, among the deadliest of the creatures Dortmund had at his beck and call, capable of shredding a human body to bloody pieces simply by seizing it in their grasp. His mind leaped back to the abandoned subway tunnel, where three elite officers of the Met police had been butchered in seconds by one of the dreadful things. They had proved vulnerable to heavy weapons fire at Meursault, but Michael had no weapon but his sword. He gritted his teeth. Tizona had, in the end, made short work of the spike demon in the Underground. The magic sword was designed to kill demons.

To kill one, though, he had to get very close, and there were two of them! Michael had been able to dispatch the spike demon in the subway by plunging his sword into its back while it was distracted with a victim. Here, while he focused on one, the other demon could tear him apart. Nor could he count on help from the panthers or the wolves, because their flesh was just as vulnerable to the savage spikes as that of any human, and they would probably break their teeth if they were able to get close enough to bite it.

“Kill them!” the warlock hissed, and waved his demon slaves forward. They went by Dortmund on either side and advanced toward Michael, the panthers backing up, snarling in frustration, as the formidable creatures approached. The werewolves, to his right, leaped forward, charging the warlock, who quickly spoke a word of Power. A shimmering sphere of transparent blue light immediately surrounded Dortmund, and as the wolves sprang toward him, they were violently repelled by the barrier and fell to the floor, quickly scrambling to regain their feet. Wolf-André and wolf-Colette howled in frustration and began rapidly circling the sphere of light, looking for any opening that would let them in upon the warlock. Dortmund simply crossed his arms over his chest and smiled at them, maddening them even more. The were-panthers moved to protect Michael, staying just out of the range of his sword, trying to distract the spike demons long enough to allow him to connect with a blow.

One was all it would take, Michael knew. He moved quickly away from the wall, giving himself enough room to maneuver. Lightning-quick, the panthers weaved about the demons, darting in and leaping back before either of them could connect with a swipe from the wickedly-sharp crystal spikes that served as claws. It was a deadly dance, and one that could have only one ending, if Michael could not strike the demons down before they killed his feline companions.

Dear Lord, please give me the speed and strength to save my friends! Michael prayed, fervently, backing up, giving way before the advancing demons. The panther’s strategy was working for the moment, as the monsters kept trying to strike at them instead of finishing the priest, but it was only a matter of time before the cats tired, and, just once, reacted too slowly to escape a killing blow.

His desperate prayer was answered when one of the demons, irritated beyond its tolerance by the constant nuisance of the panthers, stopped and turned its back on the priest, roaring its anger at the retreating cat. Michael lunged forward with the brightly glowing sword and impaled it in the center of its back, but had to pull away almost immediately to escape the other demon. Nevertheless, the brief contact proved sufficient, for the spike demon stopped absolutely still, its head thrown back, a thin whine escaping from the opening that served as its mouth, as the wound began to smoke. A brilliant glow began to spread from the cut, and seconds later, the body of the creature was enveloped in flames.

Now there was only one of the things to deal with, and Michael began to feel more confident. Enraged by the death of its companion, who was now little more than a greasy stain on the black granite floor, the remaining demon charged at Michael, wildly swinging its arms in hope of intimidating the priest and connecting before the sword could be brought into play. Michael simply side-stepped, and as the monster whirled to meet him, thrust the point forward at the beast. He had intended to stab it in the middle of the body, but the thing was just moving too fast; by luck, rather than design, Tizona bit deeply into the arm of the demon. Paralyzed by the magic of the sword, the creature was consumed in seconds.

Michael turned to face the warlock. He did not know what that blue barrier was, but maybe Tizona could somehow penetrate it. The warlock bared his teeth at the priest, and once again he raised a hand to snap his fingers in summons. Dortmund was beginning to panic. He had never expected that the priest would be able to take out both of his personal bodyguards, not with the were-beasts essentially neutralized by the formidable spikes. He still had potent magic at his fingertips, but he was unable to use it while the barrier was up, and if he dismissed the field, then the cats and wolves would be on him in seconds. He could bombard them with fireballs, but, he reflected sourly, they were so fast that they could probably just dodge them and then tear his throat out. He had been working almost nonstop for days to summon more demons, but as soon as he had brought one over and bound it to his will, he had sent it off through the portal stone to a refuge, to await his call. Dortmund needed a more potent demon to take care of this problem, and he needed it right now.

The warlock gestured, and the magical barrier surrounding him expanded outward to a diameter of ten meters, giving him room to work. Stretched out in this manner, it would be weaker, but still strong enough to protect him. As he pulled a thick piece of chalk out of his jacket pocket, his earlier summons was answered by a half-dozen of the little demon imps, who materialized within the chamber to hover over the portal stone. They buzzed with alarm as they saw the priest and the wolves and panthers in the room. “Attack them!” Dortmund shouted, pointing at his enemies, and the imps hesitated, but there was no defying the will of the master. The tiny creatures flew across the room at the four were-beasts, who were now circling the barrier again as Dortmund bent to draw the outline of a pentagram on the floor.

The little imps were hopelessly outmatched, despite their winged agility and ability to teleport in an instant. They stayed well away from the priest and his dangerously glowing sword, and focused their attention upon the panthers and wolves who were so near to the master. The imps were fast, but the panthers were faster. They simply batted them out of the air with lightning swipes of their paws, and before the dazed creatures could recover, crunched down on the imps with their fangs.

But it was a distraction, and it worked as the warlock had intended. He was tired from all the summoning he had done, but as he drew upon the inherent magic of his own body and from the grimoire hidden beneath his feet, the power surged. Dortmund had drawn a huge pentagram, far larger than anything he had ever created before, to encase and control a powerful demon. He sent his will casting about in the Underworld, seeking the greatest demon in that foul place. The warlock bit his lip, concentrating, seeking, seeking.

There! A powerful presence, stronger and more wicked than anything he had ever before encountered in his quests for demon servants. Such power it had! Such a thing should be able easily to destroy the pathetic priest and his animal servants. He seized upon it, wrapped his will and desire about it, compelling it to come through the barrier between worlds. Sweat began to bead on his forehead; it was like trying to move an enormous boulder…no, like trying to move a mountain! It resisted so strongly that he began to despair of his ability to bring it through…and then suddenly all resistance ceased, and he nearly fell backwards from the release of pressure.

Within the confines of the pentagram, a small black dot appeared, and began to expand, larger and larger, a sphere of swirling vapor, blacker than the darkest night. It grew, and grew, until the poisonous mist entirely filled the confines of the pentagram. Now, in the center of the mist, a great eye appeared, half a meter in diameter, the pupil a black reptilian slit, the iris yellow, and surrounded by blood-red. The pupil slid back and forth, taking in the scene before it; the animals, backing away in fear, the human, with its little sword, frozen in place, mouth gaping in astonishment, and then it turned its attention to Dortmund.

Dortmund was both elated, and appalled. The demon he had just summoned was incredibly powerful. It would be very difficult to bend it to his will, to turn it into a slave to do his bidding. The huge eye gazed at him, unblinking. “Do…do you accept your bondage?” the warlock demanded, becoming more forceful as he regained his confidence.

The eye continued to regard him.

“Accept your bondage, or be destroyed!” Dortmund shouted, gathering a fireball into each of his hands.

Michael could sense a vast, malignant amusement emanating from the thing inside the black mist. Dortmund repeated his demand, expanding the size of the fireballs and raising his hands to threaten the thing before him.

From within the unearthly mist, an enormous arm, covered with glistening black scales, reached out and wrapped its taloned fingers around the warlock. As the inhuman grip tightened about him, Dortmund screamed. The fireballs blinked out of existence and he began to beat with his fists at the huge fingers, each the size of the trunk of a small tree. The arm withdrew, bearing the screaming warlock into the heart of the mist, where his terrible cries suddenly ceased. The swirling vapor began to shrink, and in moments had disappeared entirely. There was no longer any sign of the warlock, and the transparent blue barrier he had created vanished with a slight popping sound. Up in the corner of the ceiling, where the last two flying imps had taken refuge out of reach of the leaping cats, the little creatures were suddenly gone, sucked back into their own world with the release of the spells that bound them. Elsewhere, throughout the world wherever Dortmund had hidden his demons, they, too, disappeared back to their own realm, no longer bound.

Just like that, the battle was over.

The remarkable turn of events had left them all a little stunned, so swift had been the reversal in their fortunes. Michael remained standing on his guard, sword raised defensively, waiting to see what might happen next. The two panthers and werewolves came over to stand in a protective group before him, their sides heaving from the efforts in combating the demons. In addition, the chest and belly fur of the wolves was a little bit singed, evidently from contact with the magical barrier Dortmund had erected to keep them out.

Several minutes went by. Michael spoke briefly into his transmitter, to tell Renée that the battle seemed to be over, and the warlock apparently vanquished. He did not bother to try to explain the details of what had happened; he was, himself, rather unsure as to what had just taken place. She acknowledged his report, and assured him that she would update the Director immediately.

After another quarter-hour had passed, with no sign of the warlock nor any activity around the pentagram, Michael finally relaxed, and let the point of his sword drop to the floor. Taking this as a signal, the shape-shifters transformed back into their human shapes. Marcel went back down the ladder to fetch the duffels and their clothing. Tizona back in her scabbard, together they explored the room; as they walked by the pentagram, Michael broke the lines with the toe of his boot, just in case. One of the rooms in the back was filled with computer equipment, including the monitor that kept watch on the hoistway pit outside the room. In another room, they found two half-eaten corpses, chained to a wall. Colette, who normally was as tough as nails, abruptly turned white and ran outside the room.

“Well, now we know how Dortmund fed his demons,” André observed grimly. Michael knelt down beside the two victims, and made the sign of the cross over the bodies, silently praying for the peace of their souls.

The large black stone was a curiosity, covered with arcane symbols. None of them had any clue as to what it might be or how Dortmund had used it. The tech wizards back at the Directorate would no doubt enjoy studying it and trying to puzzle out its function.

The team, Michael, Marcel, Simone, André and Colette, made their way back out the way they had come, and picked up the other two men from the booth on the way out in the van. Simone and Marcel departed together in the red Mini; no point in leaving any more evidence behind than need be.

They had done their part. The warlock and the threat he represented was over. The investigation of Dortmund’s hidden lair, and the extent to which others in his employ might have been involved, would be left, initially, in the capable hands of Inspector Mackenzie. The Inspector would be quite out of his depth of course, and would need to bring the Directorate back in to handle the supernatural aspects, such as removing any magical artifacts (the black stone came immediately to mind, of course).

But, it was over. At least, they hoped it was.


THE WARLOCK EXECUTIVE
continues with Part 26
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:15 am

Oh, my...

...I hope whatever Dortmund awakened is more than happy to go back to sleep...

I cannot wait to see what happens next, Joanne! :D



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:24 am


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




Part 26

The sky overhead was a sullen orange-red in color. It seemed to come from everywhere; there was no sun visible, no specific source of illumination. The ground beneath him was closely packed coarse gravel, swept bare of loose particles by the hot desert wind that never stopped blowing. There was not a trace of greenery, no living thing in sight, no blade of grass or scurrying insect or motionless lizard. The air was almost too hot to breathe, filled with toxic gases and silicate ash that made every breath choking and painful, in and out. In the far distance, an enormous plume of volcanic ash rose through the sky to some tremendous height, an intricate dance of lightning playing within the column. The faint rumble of distant geologic violence hung in the air, and the ground itself trembled in sympathetic response.  

Klaus Dortmund levered himself up from the ground onto his hands and knees, and then sat back on his heels and took stock of his situation. He was in a small depression, perhaps a blowout scooped out by the wind, perhaps twenty meters across. The vibrating earth caused occasional pebbles to roll down into the depression from the rim, some traveling across the bottom near to where he now sat.

Where was he? The last thing he remembered was being painfully squeezed in the enormous grip of some incredibly powerful demon. Obviously, he had overreached himself. It had probably not been very smart to try to summon such an incredibly potent creature, but it had been an act of desperation. That damned smirking priest! This was all the fault of Michael Mendez and that Director Kriger. They had no business meddling in his affairs. This must be the Underworld, but he would find a way back, and he would make them pay a terrible price for their impudence. He was a universe away from the power of the grimoire, but he still had the powers he was born with.

Dortmund stood up, coughing from inhalation of the sulfurous fumes, but still could not see over the rim of the shallow depression. He walked over to the edge of the crater and began to climb upward, going back down onto his hands and knees as he came to the top, and allowing only his eyes to rise above the rim, peered cautiously out at the landscape before him. He was already sweating profusely in the oppressive heat, a trickle of sweat running down the small of his back.

The view was grim in every direction that he could survey, a barren desert land, yet unlike any desert that had ever existed on his own world. The landscape was flat, a vast plain that extended as far as he could see, save for the presence of the distant volcanic mountain, mostly obscured by the haze it had generated in its eruption. There appeared to be more such mountains even farther away, and all of them were actively spewing pyroclastic ash into the atmosphere. The most striking feature, however, was not the volcanoes, but nearer to hand, perhaps a half-kilometer, what appeared to be a forest made entirely of crystal. The trees, if that’s what they were, had crystal branches and foliage that sparkled as the swaying limbs reflected the reddish light from above. He froze as he saw movement among the crystal trees, and swallowed reflexively as a two-legged figure stepped out from among the strange mineral growths. Recognizing it as a spike demon, Dortmund plastered himself even closer to the ground, blinking from the salty sweat in his eyes, and watched as the creature strode away, becoming smaller with distance.

There was no doubt about it. This was the Underworld.

Carefully and quietly, he backed down away from the rim of the depression, and at the bottom of the slope he sat down, thinking furiously. In this heat, he was losing water from his body very quickly, and would soon be dehydrated if he did not do something about it. It was best if he spent no more time in this dreadful world than was absolutely necessary. It was time to test his powers, and see what remained to him. First things first, though. This heat was just intolerable!

He untied his tie and laid it aside, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his silk shirt, and then shrugged out of his suit jacket. He contemplated it for a moment, holding it in his hands, and then started ripping the cloth along the seams. Dortmund wondered what Giorgio Armani would think of this cavalier destruction of one of his £3,000 suits. He tore the sleeves free, and then tore the lining out of the jacket; it was of a light color and should reflect the light. He ripped the lining into a rough square of an appropriate size, draped it over the back of his head, and then tied it in place with the designer tie (another three hundred pounds’ sterling, he thought sourly) around his forehead. So now I’m a Bedouin. Great. He took the remnants of the Armani suit and bundled it up and tied it into a package.

He looked at his Italian leather shoes. Already they were all but ruined, scuffed and dirty. The soles were so thin that he swore he could feel every pebble he trod upon. They would not last very long in this environment, but he did not plan to walk very far. The first thing to do would be to go over to the crystal forest and bind a few of those spike demons to his will, force them to assist him. He was becoming increasingly thirsty, and there had to be water here somewhere. And there must be a demon, somewhere, that would know how to return to the human world, even if they could not do it themselves.

This Arab headdress wasn’t helping very much, he thought irritably. Let’s see, now, a simple test. He held out his hand and tried to conjure a fireball into existence. Nothing happened. He stared at the empty surface of his palm in disbelief. Creation of a fireball was one of the simplest of magical exertions, one of the first things he had learned as a youth. Controlling it had been another matter, however; he had nearly burned down his parent’s home while experimenting, but ever since, willing a small fireball into existence had been as easy and natural as breathing. He balled his hand into a fist, then opened his fingers and thrust his hand out again. He concentrated fiercely, sweat now pouring down his face, not from the heat, but from the effort of his focus, and still his hand remained empty.

Desperately, he tried a few more exercises in magic. He tried to move a pebble a short distance without touching it, he sought to erect a barrier of force around himself, a much smaller version of the one he had employed in his workshop to keep the were-beasts at bay, all to no avail. He had no powers in this world. He was no different than any ordinary man.

The former warlock slumped to the ground in despair. He might be a billionaire in his own world, but his life wasn’t worth a shilling here. If he approached any of the demons, without his powers to cow them into servitude, they would most likely eat him or enslave him. Dortmund wondered what had become of the vast entity that had brought him here through the pentagram in his underground workshop. Certainly, it could have killed him as easily as swatting a fly, but it had just brought him here and dumped him in the middle of this desolation. Hah. Great joke, that. And he would just bet that insufferably priest was having a big laugh, right about now.

There was a faint popping sound, and he looked up to see one of the little demon imps crouching on the desert pavement about three meters away, staring at him out of its little yellow eyes, wings fanning slowly. It cocked its head to one side, then the other, curious.

“Go away,” Dortmund ordered irately, sitting cross-legged on the gravel floor of the depression. “Leave me alone.”

Its eyes widened slightly at the sound of his voice, and it took a couple of little hopping steps closer, peering at him. Dortmund reached down without looking and, with some effort, pried a pebble out of the soil. He flung it at the little demon, which looked alarmed by his action but only side-stepped as the missile went harmlessly by. It continued to stare at him.

Dortmund dug into the packed surface with his fingers and came up with an entire handful of gravel. “I said, go away!” he shouted, and threw the collection at the imp. This time it reacted by fluttering up on its wings, a meter above the ground, and then, it blinked out of existence.

“Hmph,” the warlock grumped. “Arrogant little pest.” He tried to think. Surely there must be something he could do to extract himself from this predicament. “I am a very smart man,” he told himself. “I built and ran a global corporation.” His confidence began to return, although he failed to acknowledge, even to himself, that his magical powers had a great deal to do with his success. “When I snapped my fingers, people jumped to obey. I should be able to run this place! I just need to get my bearings and figure out the best approach, how to take over.”

At that moment he heard a slight sound, and looked up to see that the demon imp had returned. It was now standing a little closer than it had before, but still just out of reach even if he lunged forward to grab it.

“I thought I told you to go away,” he informed it. “I could crush the life out of you.”

He decided to ignore it, and returned to his musings. The thing wasn’t even as big as a pigeon, what harm could it do?

When he looked up again, it was still there, but now it had company. Another demon imp stood near it, about the same distance away from him. He blinked, and when he looked again, there were a half-dozen of the miserable creatures…and in seconds, there were more than he could count, forming a circle with him in the center.

Dortmund jumped to his feet, and strode forward to the nearest cluster of little demons, and began kicking at them with his feet. “I told you…to leave me…alone!” he shouted, his face reddening. All to no effect, for they merely scattered, some taking wing to hover at arm’s length just above his head, others blinking away and popping back an instant later. The circle reformed about him.

“Ow!” he exclaimed, slapping at the side of his head. His hand came away bloody; one of the foul things had bitten off his earlobe and darted away with its prize. “Why, I’ll kill you all!” he roared, but before he had time to act on this, they swarmed upon him, slashing and tearing with their beaks and tiny teeth, and he was bleeding from a hundred little gashes. He spun and danced, slapping at the creatures, trying to avoid their attacks, but they were relentless, and before long, he was on the ground, and no longer moving, and a squirming, squabbling pile of insignificant little demons fought over the windfall of tender flesh.


THE WARLOCK EXECUTIVE

EPILOGUE
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Last edited by Easter01 on Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:59 pm; edited 1 time in total




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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:13 am

Ummm...

...well, as they say,

Karma is a b***h...

...couldn't have happened to a "nicer" guy.



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Broomhilda61
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PostBroomhilda61 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:31 am

oh I am so far behind it's unreal..I know by this weekend I will get caught up..and what is this the ending is coming sooon no way..it has to continue somehow someway lol..I will really miss this story.. dontworry



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I am so proud of all of you..
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:02 am

I'm certain that Joanne and her hubbie have more up their collective sleeves, Sam :D

heheheheheh



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:57 pm


The Warlock Executive
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2017




EPILOGUE

The Airbus ACJ318 stood on the tarmac at the London City Airport, in the east end of the city next to the Thames River, ready to taxi out to the runway. Its accommodations were rather unusual for a corporate jet, in that all of the windows along the body were heavily blacked, so that it was not possible to see in or out of anywhere in the aircraft save for the pilot’s cabin. Most passengers liked to be able to view the landscape from their windows, but not so the owner of this jet, who had specified that the windows be rendered impermeable to sunlight. The manufacturer, Airbus SAS, a French corporation, had been perfectly willing to comply with this custom order, for anyone willing to fork out more than fifty million pounds sterling for a private jet was someone whose whims would be gladly accommodated. The interior was luxurious, in the extreme, and all designed for the use of one man.

It was 10:30 pm, London time, and the man once known as Niccolò Machiavelli occupied a very comfortable lounge chair in the forward lounge. The cabin of the craft had been expensively appointed by Aeria Luxury Interiors, and in addition to separate lounges for both the crew and the owner, also contained a large master suite area in the rear. Mack’s preoccupation with collecting and analyzing information also meant that the plane was also equipped with the most sophisticated electronics for his use, including Immarsat and Iridium satellite communications systems, the most advanced computing systems that money could buy, hi-speed Wi-Fi and a state-of-the-art digital entertainment center with multiple high-definition screens. He sipped from a long-stemmed crystal wine glass that contained, not wine, but blood that had been kept chilled in the galley kitchen and heated to body temperature for his pleasure. The crew may or may not have suspected that they were employed by a vampire, but they were paid extremely well to humor his foibles.

All in all, he had rather enjoyed his stay in London, as short as it may have been this time. His flat in the city was one of many that he maintained around the globe, and used whenever he traveled on business or pleasure. Dortmund had been a thoroughly unpleasant man, to be sure, but the experience had been quite profitable. Not in monetary terms, since the salary provided him by the warlock during the weeks of his employ was inconsequential compared to the vampire’s true net worth, but by allowing him to obtain something he had long desired. The grimoire, the long-lost Tenebris Magicae of Belarius. He would be able to put it to far better use than Dortmund, that rank amateur!

His goal all along had been to get his hands on the book. It had been child’s play to stir things up, to set Dortmund and the Directorate at each other’s throats until one or the other had been destroyed. It was the affair at Meursault that had really tipped the balance. Although both sides had been devastated by the conflict, the warlock had come out of it so weakened that it had been a simple matter to assure Kriger’s ultimate victory by returning the sword to the credulous priest and informing them of the identity of their foe. And now the warlock was gone. Had things turned out otherwise, had Dortmund come away from Meursault in a position of strength, capable of eliminating the Directorate, then all “Mack” had to do was simply bide his time, insinuate himself further into the warlock’s confidence, and purloin the book at some convenient time.

He was content with the way things had worked out. Mack had no particular animosity toward the Directorate, for all that it existed to put an end to vampires and others of like kind, since they had never before crossed paths. Dortmund, on the other hand…not only was he an execrable chess player, he had also been slightly insane. Not his fault, perhaps. Merely an inevitable outcome for any mortal human who chose to employ the grimoire.

The grimoire was not merely a book, not at all. It was the habitat for a malignant spirit of great power, that had resided in it for more than a thousand years, and was the source of all the power it contained. The spirit sought out humans who could use magic, called to them, persuaded them to take up the book, and to become hopelessly addicted to the exercise of power. In the process, the user came gradually more and more under its influence, became corrupted beyond recovery, and ultimately, descended into madness. Dortmund had been naturally arrogant, but the spirit had ceaselessly cultivated his increasing homicidal tendencies. In the end, the warlock had become a perfect psychopath, no longer able to separate moral behavior from his own desires.

I have no such weakness, Mack thought comfortably. I am no mortal human, but a dead thing, without a soul, incapable of corruption because I am already corrupt. I will be able to use the power of the book without becoming enslaved to it.

After Dortmund’s rather spectacular exit from this world, which he had happily viewed through the closed circuit camera in the penthouse suite, he had simply made himself more or less invisible to the other occupants of the building until an appropriate time came to extricate the grimoire from its hiding place in the warlock’s subterranean workshop. Oh, not that he was actually invisible, although no doubt the book would in due course allow him to perform that little trick. Simple enough for an old vampire to hide among most humans, confusing their mental perceptions so that they could not see him even though he might be standing in plain sight. Some, however, were not as susceptible as others, particularly the shape-shifters employed by the Directorate, who were able to smell or sense a vampire with relative ease.

Mack had simply moved into Dortmund’s comfortable penthouse suite, and remained there throughout the entire investigation of the building by the London Metropolitan police and Interpol’s Directorate 14. They had come to Dortmund’s office, and to the suite as well, turning them inside out and upside down in search of incriminating information and any sort of supernatural artifacts, and among them were the werewolves the Directorate liked to use for their security forces. They could sense that a vampire had been about, but could not find him. He had eluded this inconvenient scrutiny by taking to the air ducts and other hidden spaces of the building for a time. Alas, he did not possess the ability to turn himself into a bat, a rat, or an insubstantial mist; those were the powers of fictional vampires created by Hollywood. Real vampires of his acquaintance did not possess any such attributes, although the ancient ones certainly had some potent powers of their own.

He waited, in hiding, for several weeks, until the investigation had concluded and all the furor had died away. There was still quite a fuss going on among the members of the board of directors for Dortmund Power & Automation, since the primary stockholder had just disappeared without warning, and none of the authorities involved in the investigation had seen fit to inform them of his fate. Not that it mattered, not in the least.

At last, a week after the last investigator had departed, he had taken Dortmund’s private elevator down to the hidden level. Mack had not survived for five centuries as a vampire by taking unnecessary risks. He had some idea of what was down there, of course, since he had taken the trouble to conduct a little investigation of his own, when he had first gained the warlock’s trust and been given a keycode to the office. The warlock had relied a little too much on technology, thinking that a simple keypad code would protect his secrets. Such was no deterrent to a vampire like him, whose senses could easily determine which keys had been pressed from the lingering human scent. It took a little time to work out the exact combination, but patience was Mack’s stock-in-trade.

The big, black portal stone was gone, of course. They had taken that away to try to decipher what it was and how it worked. The grisly remains of demon feasts had also been cleaned up, and all of the computer equipment and anything else of possible interest had been removed. The big room was now entirely empty.

They had missed the one really important artifact, of course. From his earlier visit to these precincts, Mack knew that it was buried beneath one of the corner squares of the warlock’s ostentatious chessboard, locked in an airtight steel vault where not even shifter senses could detect it. Mack could feel it, could hear the siren call of the wicked spirit within the book, seeking a new and more suitable owner.

Now it was his, tucked away in a safe in the master suite of this aircraft.

In another half-hour, this plane would lift off from the airport, and cross the Atlantic to New York City, where he had another apartment, a nineteenth-century brownstone on Fifth Avenue. Actually, he owned the entire building. It would be good to be back in the United States, for despite what he had told Dortmund about the unhealthy flavor of American blood, they were a rather interesting people. He supposed it was not so much that they tasted bad, rather that Americans tended to have bad taste. Mack smiled and took another sip of the warm blood, amused by his own little jest.

Possession of the grimoire very well might allow him to obtain possession of something else he greatly desired. The acquisition of power was the key to nearly anything that one might wish to have, and the book was the source of great power, indeed. Imagine, a vampire warlock! He was not aware that there had ever been one before, not in the long history of the world.

All of that was, however, secondary. The book was but the means to his primary goal; even great power was but a tool, not the end in itself. With such power in his hands, he could very well regain the favor of the one creature for whom he cared.

Lucrezia, she had been called, in the Florence of the fifteenth century. Eleven years younger than Niccolò Machiavelli, blonde and beautiful, clever and cold-hearted, he had fallen in love with her when both were mortal beings. Daughter of the powerful Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander XI, he was but insignificant to her; she had toyed with him for a while, and then discarded him like last week’s rubbish. Despite this, he had despaired when she had died in 1519, still lovely at the age of thirty-nine.

But he saw her again, nearly a decade later, when she came to him in the night, and took his life and made him into a vampire. They were together for nearly a century after that, before she tired of him once again, and departed.

He had sought her through the centuries, and finally found her, in America, where she now went by the name of Nicole.

Perhaps now, with the powers of the grimoire, he would be able to impress her sufficiently that she would remain with him.

The purring whine of the jet engines grew in volume, and the plane began to move down the taxiway to the runway. He consulted his watch. They should be in New York in about eight hours. It would still be dark, across the Atlantic, time enough to take up residency in his Fifth Avenue apartment before the sun rose again.

Soon, he would seek out his lost love. Nicole, the queen of the American vampires.  


(c) 2017 Joanne Easter and Richard Easter. All Rights Reserved.




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forthcoming




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

Easter01's Short Stories can be found: Here

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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:17 pm

What an ending, Joanne!

...and what a teaser for the next beginning!!!

I cannot wait :D

Please do not hurry or rush -- I promise patience while you and Richard bring these new stories to fruition.

Truly amazing reads... loveflower



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3

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