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Thread: Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World?

  1. #2241
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    Okay folks: a little changeup:

    We're going to reschedule the Bonus to Wednesday and I'll post a chapter tonight (right now actually) .

    The reason is that I am going to be on a flight to California in about 6 hours and I don't know how soon i'll be back in business internet-wise etc so I want to give myself as much space as possible before I have to write another chapter (Friday) .

    Please shower us all with comments while I'm away XD ! I'll consider it an early Birthday/Christmas present XD
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  2. #2242
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    Chapter LXXIX: Scars


    10 June 1609

    Soap: one of the few luxuries a rich merchant vessel might have in its hold lathered in Raul’s hand. The sea-side coast one of the Aegean islands was perhaps not the most luxurious place to have a bath, but it was the group’s final waypoint before Zeren and Abdullah sailed northward to Constantinople and the others sailed due west to Sicily and then to the Peninsula proper.

    Raul could feel the tiny march of dozens of stones against his ankles as the latest wave crashed against the beach. He raised the bar carefully and rubbed it against his skin allowing the slimy mix of the Castille soap to cover his upper body. It was then that Willem re-emerged from the waves next to him.

    “Why do you keep doing that?” Raul asked with his usual sarcastic edge.

    Willem’s fiery hair hung to his face like the sun before it sets igniting a window curtain. “Doing what?” he asked back blowing air through his lips expressively.

    “Holding your breath like that,” Raul reiterated as he passed the soap to his comrade.

    Willem took the slimy bar from Raul and stood up in the water. “Just training my lungs,” he replied half embarrassed.

    “Well stop it,” Raul said as he rinsed himself, “It’s annoying.”

    Willem ignored the remark before saying, “You know, Madeleine’s been asking around about your scars.” He simultaneously busied himself with lathering up pretending not to notice how Raul paused.

    “I already know,” Raul replied evenly looking off to the Mediterranean horizon. “But we’re already so close,” he added, “We don’t need anyone else on the journey we have to take.” Bending his knees as he spoke, Raul found his way into a sitting position on the stony sand underneath. Shoulder deep in water, he felt the cool embrace of the water and its momentum swaying against his stiff body. It was a familiar feeling, he recalled and he brought his knees up towards his bare chest using his arms to wrap around them and lock them in place against his body.

    “I’ve felt this before” Raul said to himself as the dark reflection of his face as he looked down fluttered in the waves. Somehow, his eyelids felt heavy as if his head was filling up with that same liquid. In the gentle rock of the ocean, this water heaviness in his head began to leak outward through his eyes. The fluid around him felt inviting—like a return to a place he wished he still could go.

    It was then that a burning sensation interrupted him. Along his side, like the trail of a red hot dragon winding up from his inner thigh up past his hip and curling a sickle shape along his back , side , and then front. Constricting him for a moment like some coiled serpent, his mark oppressed his side like some great printing press burning a hot mark on his skin. Wincing, his mind reeled and he fell back into the waves with a dramatic crash.

    He could hear Willem calling out to him from above the surface of the waves but his now open eyes could only see the glimmering gloss of what appeared like the setting of the sun shimmering above him. The burning without flame… his scars left him paralyzed underneath the water. A hand reached out to him.

    In the moments between his quiet underwater reverie to grabbing Willem’s hand, Raul sighed out a breath through the water and let the bubbles move upward like crystal planets rushing to the starry surface. Soon, his eyes too, like their own blue water-bearing planets rose to the light filled surface and broke through. Standing half naked next to him was a shocked Willem who was still holding him by his wrist keeping him steady.

    “What’s wrong?” was Willem’s concerned question as his other hand now accosted Raul’s wet shoulder to steady him.

    Raul’s first instinct was to rip himself away—like he’s always done, he said to himself. However, as he forced air into his lungs, the coldness of the passing day overtook him and the only warmth along the length of his body was where Willem was keeping him from returning to the waves. Would she want this? He couldn’t help but ask himself. To make friends is good, right?

    “Yes…” a voice inside of his brain was saying, “it’s alright.”

    The voice, however, although familiar—that lovely voice—it only made Raul wish to yell out again. It’s all your fault it’s like this! He screamed inside the depths of his brain.

    “Raul? Raul?” Willem was repeating. Raul stopped him by placing a hand on top of his hand sandwiching it against his own shoulder. Willem half expected it to be scraped away dutifully, but instead Raul brushed it off calmly.

    “I’ll be alright… we better head back to the dock,” was the tempered response. At first, Willem could only take in the changed demeanor. It was not the first time this kind of strange interlude happened to Raul, he recalled. Indeed, every now and then, in situations like this, that troubled young man would descend into some abyss which Willem, until now, had never been able to follow. The darkness within Raul’s heart seemed like a bottomless ocean that frothed with anger and hatred like a boiling netherworld.

    “I’ll get our stuff,” Willem said as he let go of his friend and started to walk back towards the sand. He was stopped by strange words following from behind him.

    “Thank you,” Raul said quietly. It was enough to stop Willem for a moment.

    “Our mission—your mission… it’s almost over,” Willem said while still turned away from Raul, “So hang in there; you’ll be able to see her again very soon. I promise.”

    ---


    11 June 1609

    “This is goodbye then,” Renault said with a fatherly smile. He was looking off from the rear of the merchant vessel at the smaller boat behind them. Both vessels were no longer tethered together and both were making ready to leave the small dock. “I will not forget your honour, Zeren of Constantinople,” Renault added in his best Persian so that everyone around him could understand, “you could have handed us over at any time to your countrymen ever since they told you about the opening of hostilities, but you chose to honour your agreements.”

    “Without such honour, sir, I would not have made it even onto this boat,” the young Turk responded looking up towards the taller vessel’s railing. He gave a stern, resolved look at each of those departing. “I wish you all a safe journey back to your home country.”

    “And you as well, mon cheri!” Madeleine responded with a happy wave of her hand. “It was great fun!” she added, but in Turkish—she had apparently picked up a few words already just from the short time they had been together.

    “Are you sure you and Abdullah will be alright?” Raul now asked.

    Zeren greeted that young man with a broad smile. “It will be a long journey, but both of us will manage,” he said so while looking back to Abdullah who was already securing the rigging.

    “I wish for you to know that you have made friends amongst us,” Willem called out, “from one soldier to another, I hope to meet you on the battlefield with the same respect you have given us.”

    Again, the gravitas was evident amongst the mens’ faces. Only Madeleine seemed to wish the two Turks farewell like a playmate parting from a friend to head home for dinner.

    “Fare well and may Allah bless your journey!” Zeren said as the merchant vessel cast off in front of him. The others similarly said their blessings and turned to attend to the vessel.

    Zeren looked back to Abdullah after a while, “is the ship ready?” Abdullah gave an enthusiastic nod. “Then let’s be off!” Zeren exclaimed as he stepped to the side of the boat and unhooked the rope. Unfolding her sails, the little vessel eased forward from the pier.

    Zeren went over to his older companion and helped him with the last of the cord before the sails now fully bloomed in the morning breeze. “Just wait for me,” he said into the wind, “Leyla… I will be returning soon.”

    ---


    Alvaro de Guzman watched as his patron swayed a pale hand across the checkered board. Like the edges of scissors, the Cardinal’s wiry fingers gripped a piece and pulled it up into the air only to land it once again onto a black square.

    Alvaro dutifully wrote down the notation of his master’s step. Afterward, he took a moment to see the opponent sitting on the other side of the small table. It had surprised Alvaro at first—the Cardinal’s opponent was only nine years old.

    The young one moved a piece and the callow eyes looked up immediately to the prelate with a questioning look. A smile that erupted on the Cardinal’s face forced a mirror grin on the young boy’s. “Well done, Gioachino,” the Cardinal praised eliciting an even wider smile from the boy. Alvaro was a bit stunned but remembered to write the move down.

    “Mate in three,” the young boy noted with only a scant covering of humility. Alvaro could barely hold his pen against paper as he discerned the board attempting to see what this young one could ascertain that he could not.

    “Well that will be all for today’s lesson then,” the Cardinal said with his continued warm face—although the prelate’s teeth was like a crooked face against his pale visage, it nonetheless delighted the young student. “Alvaro,” the Cardinal called out to his aide, “please call in Senor Greco and tell him that I’ll see young Gioachino the same time next week.”

    “Immediately, Your Eminence,” Alvaro responded closing the notebook and placing the papers on a nearby desk.

    It did not take him long to find the young prodigy’s father and escort the two out of the Cardinal’s chambers. The words of thanks the father gave him were accented with that southern Italian flavour. It was already late in the afternoon and Alvaro thought to bring the Cardinal some more water when he returned.

    “Thank you, Alvaro, any more dispatches from the Room?” the Cardinal inquired upon Alvaro’s return to the chamber.

    “None, Your Eminence,” Alvaro replied as he placed the tray on the table. “I was curious though, Your Eminence,” he began, “in your busy schedule why do you insist on having some time to play chess?”

    “It helps the mind,” was the quick response from the deep voice of the prelate. “It helps to train you to look at possibilities… some say it is just a hobby, but I think it helps to hone even this old brain here.”

    Alvaro nodded quietly. “Perhaps one day I should learn from you, sir,” the young one said.

    The Cardinal laughed a bit. “Perhaps. Everything I know about the game my predecessor taught me in the more casual days of our upbringing. And he learned it from the infamous Ruy Lopez…. But who knows,” the Cardinal added with one of those rolling expressions that combined a laugh with the deepness of his vocalizations, “perhaps you will have a chance to learn from the great Panzerkardinal himself.”

    “You mean…?”

    “I have no doubt that Raul will succeed in his mission,” the Cardinal finished his thoughts, “we will bring them all back and we will see them all again.”

    ---


    The swirling darkness was like a choking smog. Rolling mists of burning moisture seethed against the terrain like a smothering cloud of liquid ash. The ground, like a hellish fissure crackled in an ashen heap; it was a prickly porcupine of stone and rock.

    Two figures huddled in a corner of the great mass and hid in the darkness. In the tumultuous clouds above, the sunlight attempted to break through the swirling layers of blackness and lightning. Between the sunbeams and thunder, there were moments of gold and there were flashes of light.

    The two who were there, like an Adam and an Eve after the fall, dirtied and bloodied, the man held the woman in his arms with barely any strength left in his half torn arms.

    “He’s gone now, but…” the man could barely say above the howl of the rushing air around them. He looked down at the darkened figure in his arms; she reached a hand out to his face running tired fingers against an ashened face and pulling some of the dirt away to gaze at some semblance of the handsome features underneath.

    “I—” the woman tried to say, but, instead, a cough interrupted her speech with a small froth of blood staining her blackened lips with a heavy red. Her eyelids drooped and her eyes rolled slightly. A quick jolt of those arms that were around her, as if they received new strength pulled her closer to the air, brought her closer to that smeared face.

    “No… stay awake…” she heard him say. “I’ve already lost you once, I can’t lose you again,” was the almost pathetic plea. Those firm arms around her reaching out to her opposite shoulder and another around her waist and supporting her back felt strangely comforting despite the pain that traveled throughout her body.

    She looked up to his face, and looked into those dark sultry eyes that were quickly glistening with a clearer liquid. She reached up with her hand once again and touched that face. “When you touch me like this…” she forced out of her mouth, “and when you hold me like that….” The words were gone with the wind as she spoke but she continued, “It’s all coming back to me… I can barely recall but it’s all coming back to me now…”

    Her eyes drifted closed as silvery tears from the one above her swept some dirt from her cheek.



    Interlude


    Taguchi wiped the residual dirt from his face—walking through such an old bunker was bound to attract dust and char. As he rubbed the moistened towel on his features, he could already smell the pristine septic environment of the hospital around him.

    Yes… that smell… he was not exactly fond of it ever since the past few days when he had to bid farewell to one of his mentors in the same environment. The sound of running water attracted his saddened and tired expression to the figure standing a few basins to his right. Pablo was similarly wiping some of the dust and smoke from his face. For some reason, Taguchi wanted to tell his friend to erase that smear on his lips… that smear where that scar was.

    Pablo noticed that his room mate was staring at him and turned his head similarly. “Did I miss a spot?” was the joking question.

    Taguchi’s smile only reached the halfway point before it disappeared into uncertainty. It was enough to confuse Pablo into returning to his task of cleaning his face—albeit with a bit of reservation. “Why did you come with us?” Taguchi asked from across the hospital bathroom.

    “Did it seem like I had a choice?” Pablo responded without looking back towards Taguchi. His voice lost that comedic edge.

    Taguchi returned his eyes to the silvery sheen of the mirror in front of him. “You seem almost happy about it,” was his quieter statement. Both men took a moment to stare at their own reflections.

    The words filled the gap between them for a few more moments before Taguchi started up again, “I mean… how can you—”

    It only took a moment for Pablo to take hold of Taguchi’s throat and press him against the tiled wall. “You really want to know the reason I’m here?” Pablo asked with grit teeth. Taguchi gripped at the man’s wrist that held him half choking. His eyes widened as Pablo’s switch blade was now in one of his hands aimed towards Taguchi’s gut. “Don’t you understand?” Pablo called out to him although Taguchi’s eyes kept staring at the man’s blade, “This is one of those things that when you go, someone makes sure you don’t ever come back, Junno!”

    The blade thrust forward and, despite a constricted throat, Taguchi forced a scream into the clean air.

    Chapter LXXX: Coming Back (coming soon)
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  3. #2243
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    Hmm, was that Antonio and Isabella in the Adam and Eve scene?

    And if so, where in the world are they? Alaska? Or some earlier time when larger parts of the world were empty?

    In any case, the next few chapters should be VERY interesting.
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  4. #2244
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    Great update, a little depressing but I should of expected that from the title.

    What a great way to start of the day
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  5. #2245
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    My brother is also named Willem, which makes this particullary fun to read...
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  6. #2246
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    That was quite a momentous chapter! It all started off quite fun and then plummetted into darkness, a great scene between Raul and Willem, the two people near the end were very interesting, but I won't guess just yet

    And Taguchi!?
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  7. #2247
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    q1: whom was the blade thrusted AT? The "suggested" route seems rather unlikely given the circumstances (plenty of earlier opportunity; now almost certainty of being caught) ..so chances are the blade wasn't aimed at Taguchi himself (not in the sense of trying to kill him, in any case)..Unless some vital piece of information about what happened in between hasn't been revealed.

    q2: Who are the two persons.. Antonio and Isabella doesn't sound too unlikely, but Nia is a possibility too.. But where are the others? Is "he"(who is now gone) Sio-Pan or someone(/thing) else?
    Are these new characters, or characters we don't "know"(ie. minor to date)?

    q3: Where, indeed, are the two persons.. Some barren area, sounds like they're inside, or close to, an (semi-)active vulcano or somesuch..Ofcourse, there's the possibility of it being a "blast area".. possibly due to the timepiece? {I thought there was something on the 'arrival' of timepieces, but couldn't find it anymore }
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  8. #2248
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    Gave us a lot to enjoy in that chapter. It almost seemed like Raul was poisoned, the sensations he was experiencing. I liked the interlude with Alvaro and the Cardinal, very warm and fuzzy. I'm wondering that was Isabella too...A nice chapter to wake up to!

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  9. #2249
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForzaA
    q2: Who are the two persons.. Antonio and Isabella doesn't sound too unlikely, but Nia is a possibility too.. But where are the others? Is "he"(who is now gone) Sio-Pan or someone(/thing) else?
    Are these new characters, or characters we don't "know"(ie. minor to date)?
    But why would Nia have to almost remember something?

    Isabella is known to have had memory loss.
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  10. #2250
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    Interesting.

    A very emotional chapter at that.
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  11. #2251
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    Good chapter, interesting one too. I feel we're approaching the climax of season 2. I wonder, the Adan and Eve scene, could it possibly be Antonio and Isabella in some sort of alternate universe?
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  12. #2252
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    Avernite: Yes , you would be correct , that was Antonio and Isabella XD As for where they are .. well ..

    comagoosie: haha , we all need a little catharsis every once in a while !

    Murmurandus: ROFL Really ? Did not know that !

    English Patriot: Thank you very much XD And Yes , Taguchi is a big question mark right now .

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  13. #2253
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    hmm, water poisoning? Salt poisoning?

    I know it exists as an allergy
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  14. #2254
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite
    hmm, water poisoning? Salt poisoning?

    I know it exists as an allergy
    not really . It has to do with his scars .
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  15. #2255
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized
    As far as Pablo , there's a lot hinted about his violent past . Could be a sleeper type deal . We'll have to see .
    Haha yes! Like Boomer, only male. Why, you toaster, why?
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  16. #2256
    Revolutionary Leader VILenin's Avatar
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    Some very moving moments in that last chapter, particularly the end of the first part, the "Adam and Eve" scene. Though quoting those lyrics did disrupt the serious mood a bit. Antonio and Isabella is also my guess, their dialogue certainly makes them the most likely. But nothing is certain in Timelines, so who knows.

    Bonus chapter going up in a minute. Also, there is a strong possibility that the next week will not see an update (from me). Monday, for one, is Christmas Eve anyway, and I'll be busy most of the rest of the week with family/friends and travelling.
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  17. #2257
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    Purgatory in the Eleventh Hour - Chapter 3

    Chapter Three: Secrets in the Steam Room



    I woke up the next day with the information Brother Alfred had given me still fresh in my mind. The implications were frightening; anybody who targeted a clergyman specifically wasn’t just off their rocker, they were stirring up very dangerous sentiments. And, if was right about this, it wouldn’t take long for those sentiments to rise to the surface. Things would get ugly and before long military boots would land on Seattle, and they would land hard. For all the compassion and mercy the Church displays on a daily basis they could be fearsome when it came to defending their own. The diocese bishop would scream bloody murder (pardon my choice of words) to the Viceroy and he, for his part, would be all too eager to oblige with a crack down and prove how firm and decisive he was.

    To appreciate my concern you’ve got to understand the politics of North America. On the surface it was a happy and peaceful place, untouched by the chaos of other parts of the world like Persia. The Pacific coast had been a Spanish colony for centuries and identified itself both politically and culturally with the rulers in Madrid. The Atlantic coast was a different story. A large Protestant population lived there, mostly from the British Isles, and they were distinctly of two minds about being part of the Spanish Empire. They enjoyed a good degree of both prosperity and freedom and seemed to have reconciled themselves to the order of the world But, again, appearances are deceiving. During the Great War the Atlantic coast had risen up in rebellion and tried to establish their own country. They’d lost. To this day, beneath all that wealth and peace, resentment still festered in the hearts of a sizeable chunk of the population. It was a minority, to be sure, but not so much as Madrid wanted to believe. This murder of a Catholic Priest could lead to a witch hunt, bringing all of that tension back to the surface.

    Unless I found the guy first. If I could track him down quickly enough I could head off the crisis before it exploded. No small order of business, but it had to be done.

    Getting delusions of grandeur, Manny? I derided myself. Turning this into a quest to save the world?

    Maybe not. The world was too big for me too save by myself, and anyway, maybe this case wasn’t as important as I was making it. Then again, maybe I was just fulfilling a time-honored tradition; after all, Spanish agents had been saving the world for centuries.

    At any rate, those larger considerations could wait. Right now I had more immediate concerns, like how I was going to find the killer in the first place. Apparently it was going to take time for Eva to get the information I wanted but what to do in the meantime?

    Fortunately, a blinking message on my phone held the answer. Captain Yamashita suggested I go to the Canal Hotel, host to the only public Japanese bath house in the city. He didn’t elaborate as to why, just said that if I was to go 11am would be a good time. That gave me a few hours to kill but at least it was something. I spent the time researching different firearms that might have been used and filing an official notice that I’d had to suspend investigations into Schwarzschild. Undoubtedly some pencil-pushed would be unhappy I’d done so but this was a matter of priorities. Whatever that corporation might have done there would be plenty of time to deal with it later.

    ************************************************** **********************



    I walked into the Canal Hotel a little uneasy. As I’d asked for the bath house I’d quickly realized that everyone else was Japanese or of Japanese descent. I stuck out like, well, pretty much exactly like you’d expect. Even though the place wasn’t busy at this time of day I was drawing curious glances from all the other patrons, not ideal for what I assumed was supposed to be a somewhat clandestine meeting. Nothing I could about it but just go about my business and hope I was being too paranoid.

    Of course, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as being too paranoid in my business.

    I found an empty locker and stripped off my clothes. Then, wrapping a towel around my waist, I headed into the baths. Heading through the doors I walked straight into a wall of steam, obscuring most of the room. It seemed to be fairly large, however, as I could just make out the other three occupants. One of them, sitting off on one of the side benches, waved me over.

    “Ah, you must be Mr. Calavera,” he said in a quiet voice. “My friend Yamashita-san told me about you.”

    I scrutinized the other man, not sure what to make of him. He was Japanese, about the same age as the captain, maybe a bit younger. A little on the plump side, hair starting to thin and a pinch on the bridge of his nose that indicated he wore glasses.

    “Yeah, I got a message from the Captain suggesting I stop by,” I replied in low but conversational voice. “And you are…?”

    “You can call me Jerry,” he said with a small smile. “That’s my name among friends.”

    I arched an eyebrow at him, Jerry was hardly a traditional nickname. I almost asked him how he’d gotten but I didn’t want to waste any time.

    “Ok, Jerry, why don’t you tell me why I’m here.”

    His eyes darted around the room quickly, checking on the two men seated in the far corner. They appeared to be paying no attention to us but I wasn’t sure how well they might be able to overhear us. Jerry gestured to a spot on the bench next to him.

    “Please, Mr. Calavera, won’t you sit down?”

    I nodded silently and slid down next to him. He leaned his head slightly towards me.

    “Yamashita-san and I have been friends for a long time,” he began, speaking in a hushed voice. “From time to time we meet to discuss our work. Recently, something happened that he found very upsetting. He will not talk to me about it but I know it must be important.”

    I kept quite, not wanting to give out any information to a civilian. Jerry nodded.

    “You are right to keep what you know to yourself. I have learned some of what happened on my own, enough to know that it is dangerous. The newspapers will soon find out and there will be quite an uproar, but that is not why you are here.”

    He paused for a moment before continuing.

    “You were asked to come here so that I can pass along a message, one that my friend can not give you in person. If you are looking for information there is another place you should visit, a night club in downtown called the Red Room. There is a man there named Jean Francois who may have many of the answers you seek.”

    I made a mental note of the names.

    “Why couldn’t Yamashita tell me this himself?” I asked.

    Jerry paused again, the slightest hint of unease flashing across his face.

    “My friend has certain… misgivings about this case. Misgivings about the crime and the people who might be involved. That is why he asked for your help. He believes that only you can catch this man.”

    “But why? What has him so concerned.”

    Jerry was sweating, and I don’t think it was from the steam.

    “You have to understand something about Seattle, Mr. Calavera. Nothing in this city happens without…”

    He cut off abruptly at the sound of the door opening. A young man, maybe in his mid-twenties, walked in. Jerry shook his head.

    “We should be going. You have enough to get you started. From here you must find your own answers. Have a good day, Mr. Calavera.”

    With a quick bow of the head, Jerry got up and left. I sat for a minute, trying to make sense of what he’d said, and then followed him out. I had the locker room to my self as I got dressed, leaving me to contemplate in silence. I’d thought I had understood Captain Yamashita’s motivations going into this but apparently I’d come up short in a big way. This added a whole new dimension to things and I didn’t like it one bit. And what had Jerry been about to tell me about Seattle?

    Why do people always seem to get cut off right before the crucial piece of information, I thought to myself unhappily.

    As I took my jacket out of the locker, I saw something drop to the floor. A small, cylindrical metal object that definitely hadn’t been there before. I bent down to pick it, the fluorescent lights glinting faintly off the copper.

    I cursed silently. “What have I gotten myself into?”

    Last edited by VILenin; 20-12-2007 at 04:33.
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  18. #2258
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    Beautiful finish! The mystery is growing, how can I stand it!

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  19. #2259
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    Nice, the hunt gets seedier as we go. I think the bullet is a warning of sorts. I liked the brief discussion of North America, good stuff VI!

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  20. #2260
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Glad you guys liked it ! It was a great chapter too , I especially enjoyed the idea of a Japanese bath house XD very noir .
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