Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dillon and The Pirates of Xonira: Chapter One


CHAPTER ONE


Madrid, Spain

Somewhere Near the Waterfront




            “Are you sure that they’re dead, Morgan?”
The speaker was a man who moved more like a wonderfully crafted mechanical mechanism than a human being.  The precision with which his body performed made hard men wary and easy women wonder about the possibilities.   He looked at his subordinate with pewter gray eyes that were unnerving with the intelligence radiating from them.  His thick, wavy brown hair was cut in a severe military cut so precise it hurt to look at while his high forehead lent him a scholarly, intellectual air.   Of average height he boasted an athletic build that hadn’t been earned in high priced gymnasiums or health clubs. 
Morgan nodded slowly.  “I saw to it myself, sir.  There’s no connection here in Madrid to any of your operations.” 
“Except for Carl here.”  The gray-eyed man pointed at the third man in the room.  Carl’s bald head gleamed in the bright lights of the room.  The amount of sweat pouring off of him would have been comical if the situation hadn’t been so serious.  He’d been brought here to die and he full well knew it.  Carl was tied securely to a plain wooden chair and gagged with a simple rag stuffed in his mouth.
Morgan stood ramrod firm at attention, his back straight, arms held rigidly at his side.  “Might I suggest that we see to leaving this part of the world immediately, sir?  There’s going to be holy hell when the operation jumps off and even though your tracks are covered, there’s going to be considerable beating of the grass to rouse the snakes.”
The other man smiled and walked over to a kidney shaped mahogany desk.  “Meaning us, eh?  But you’re right, Morgan.  There’s no sense in us hanging around.  We’ve done well.  I just need to wipe these computers-“he waved a hand at several computers occupying the space on top of a round wooden table.  “-and we can go.  Is the boat ready?”
“With your permission, sir, I’ll see to it right away.”
“By all means.  And send in Johnny.  I’ll need him to carry some personal items to the boat for me.”
“Very good, sir.”  Morgan saluted smartly and left the well-lit room by means of a large round iron bound wooden door, one of several in the room.  And it was not the only door as well.  There was four that could be seen but there were two others that were well hidden and kept secret from even the faithful Morgan.  The room could have belonged to an English country squire or a writer of serious, scholarly tomes.  Light flooded in through the stained glass dome in the ceiling.  A fifteen foot tall chandelier with cream colored metal leaves blooming into ornate candelabras was the magnificent showpiece of the room and the only rival in its beauty was a delicate looking giant Chinese Chippendale aviary.
The gray-eyed man slowly opened a drawer of the desk.  He withdrew a Glock-17 and casually screwed on a silencer while softly whistling “Spanish Harlem”.  He walked over to where the profusely perspiring Carl sat.  With his black suit, shoes, white shirt and blood red tie, the gray-eyed man resembled nothing else but an executioner come to do his duty.  He stopped right in front of Carl, whose eyes appeared to be on the verge of bursting from the sockets.  He trembled all over as if he were about to have a grand mal seizure. 
“You must understand that there is nothing personal in this, Carl.  In fact, you performed your duties admirably well and I dearly wish that I could continue to make use of your services.  However, you have been identified by the authorities.  That makes you a liability.  I can’t take you with me because there would be the chance you would be recognized by the law enforcement agents of another country and they would be on you in no time at all.  I can’t allow that.  And I can’t leave you here alive because you may discover a morsel of honesty somewhere inside your otherwise corrupted heart and nurture it enough to tell the authorities everything you know.  Therefore-“The gray-eyed man placed the muzzle of the gun against Carl’s forehead and pulled the trigger.  At the same time he placed his right foot on Carl’s chest and shoved him over backwards so that the splattering brains wouldn’t splash on his suit.  Carl hit the floor with a meaty crash.
The gray-eyed man returned to his desk, still whistling “Spanish Harlem” when the door Morgan had used the leave the room exploded inwards in a blizzard of wooden splinters from the impact of two grown men slamming into it.
One of the men was Morgan and his face was an awful sight.  He’d been worked over and worked over good by the other man who delivered a final devastating roundhouse that corkscrewed Morgan completely around twice before he hit the floor out cold.  The gray eyed man brought his Glock up but before he could get off a shot the other man smoothly drew a Jericho 941 from a cross draw holster on his left hip and trained it on him.
“You have me at a disadvantage, sir.  To whom do I have the pleasure of entertaining?”  The gray-eyed man’s voice was just as cultured and calm if they were discussing which opera to attend that evening.
“I know who you are, right enough,” the other man answered “Professor Alonzo Sunjoy.  You hold so many degrees in the fields of Molecular Biology, Quantum Chemistry and Plasma Physics it makes my head hurt just to think of them.  You could have distinguished yourself in the world as a brilliant scientist.  Instead you became a brain for hire, using your genius to think up new and more efficient ways to kill people instead of helping them.”
“I still have no idea of who you are, sir.”
“The name is Dillon.”
Professor Sunjoy’s eyes opened wider.  “Well, this is a surprise!  I’ve heard of you, naturally.  Who in our profession has not?  I never dreamed our paths would cross under these circumstances.”  Sunjoy talked pleasantly and smiled even more pleasantly.  When he and Morgan didn’t show up at the boat Johnny would investigate.  All Professor Sunjoy had to do was keep Dillon talking until-
“Your other man isn’t coming to help you.  He’s at the top of the staircase enjoying the asskicking I gave him.  It’s over, Sunjoy.  Ten, fifteen minutes more or so and you’ll be in the hands of Interpol and A.C.E.S.”
“Ah.  That would be the Advanced Counter Espionage Syndicate, I take it?”
And now there was a smile spreading across Dillon’s face as well.  “They’ve been after you for the past three years, Professor Sunjoy.  They thought I was spinning them a yarn when I approached them and offered my help to track you down but they changed their mind after they saw how I spent the past nine days dismantling your operation here in Madrid.”
For the first time there was alarm in Professor Sunjoy’s eyes as he leaned forward.  “And just exactly what do you mean by that, sir?”
“I mean that your plan to destroy The Vega/Murietta Protectorate isn’t going to happen.  The conference is going ahead as scheduled and even as we speak A.C.E.S. has dismantled the nerve gas canisters and is rounding up your people.”
Sunjoy’s eyes narrowed with anger.  “Morgan just reported to me.  He said that everything was progressing according to schedule.”

            “Don’t be too hard on your boy.  As far as he knew, everything was going according to plan.  It took a little more effort and time and effort to keep him convinced that everything was cool but it was worth it.”  Dillon’s grin was now that of a shark who’s tasted blood in the water.  “It was worth it because I got YOU.”
“We’re never crossed paths before.  Why do you interfere in my affairs?”
“Think back.  Eight months ago.  On your orders a man named Randolph Ryan was killed right in his house in Mexico.  He was taking a bath and somebody pumped five bullets into him.  I’m guessing it was your man Morgan.”
Sunjoy waved a hand dismissively.  “Ryan had done some work for me, but he didn’t know it.  Through him I was able to secure several items I needed to transport the canisters of nerve gas safely.  Once his purpose had been served I had no more use for him. I couldn’t take the chance he might talk.”
“Randolph Ryan wouldn’t have talked if his wife and kids were having their throats slit right in front of him.  I know because he was my man and in the seven years we did business he never once sold me out.”
“Then if he was your man then why was he taking jobs on the side?”
Dillon shrugged.  “I don’t know.  But I do know a few things: I know that Randolph would never have taken a dime from you if he had known what you were planning.  And I know that you didn’t have to kill him.”
“You mean to stand there and tell me that you dismantled an operation it took me ten months to plan and organize simply because I killed a man?”
“Oh, c’mon, Sunjoy.  You know how this works.  The word gets around you killed one of my people and I did nothing about it and pretty soon I have no people at all.  The fact that you were planning on gassing eight thousand innocent people to death and I prevented it is a bonus.”
Sunjoy’s voice lowered as he fought to control the boiling rage inside of him as he said; “You have no idea what you’ve done.  The people I’m working for will withdraw the considerable sum of money they’re paying me and send their dogs to hunt me down and kill me for not fulfilling my end of the bargain.”
“And what part of that concerns me?”  Dillon asked.  “I should just blow your brains out and walk away happy.  But that wouldn’t be enough.  You need to be put away, Professor Sunjoy.  Studied like a lab rat for the next fifty years.  Maybe somebody can take that brain of yours apart and figure out where freaks like you come from and how we can keep any more like you from happening.”  Dillon’s grin increased.  “However, if that doesn’t happen, I can think of other solutions.”
“This is absolutely intolerable.  I cannot have this operation disrupted.  I was counting on the funds I was receiving for this operation to finance other projects I have planned.”
“You’re boring me, Sunjoy.”  Dillon’s eyes under severe eyebrows were not their usual sparkling copper color.  They had darkened to a moody molten gold.  “The good guys are on their way so we’re just going to stand here pointing our guns at each other and pass the time in pleasant discussion until they come with that funny white tuxedo that ties in the back to take you away to the ha-hacienda where you can spend the rest of your days playing Parcheesi with the rest of the Napoleons.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Professor Sunjoy carefully took a step to his left, his gun still trained on Dillon.  “100 million dollars.”
Dillon didn’t bat an eye as he took a matching step to his left.  “Beg pardon?”
“I’m prepared to give you 100 million dollars for my safe passage out of Spain.”  Sunjoy risked taking another step to the left.
Dillon extended the gun in his hand forward slightly.  “You take one more step and you’ll be going to the booby hatch minus a leg.”
“You would actually turn down such a princely sum of money?”
“I’m not exactly poor myself, Sunjoy.  I’ve got money of my own and in any case, I wouldn’t take yours.”
Professor Sunjoy’s eyes radiated quiet hatred.  “I assure you that I am not a man that you would want to have as an enemy.  Let me make arraignments to take care of Mr. Ryan’s family in recompense for my error.  Shall we say four million dollars a year for the next six years?  Would that be satisfactory?”
“I’ll take care of Randolph’s family, Sunjoy.  They’re not your concern.  They’re mine.  Just as he was mine and you had no business getting him involved in your filth.”
Professor Sunjoy was growing visibly agitated.  “I cannot afford to be captured, Dillon.  My enemies are numerous and once they know where to find me they will have me killed.”
“You’ll have to give me a minute while I switch on the part of my brain that gives a damn.”  Dillon grinned immensely as if he were having the time of his life.  “I’d heard a lot about what such a cool customer you are but I do believe you’re beginning to sweat razor blades, Sunjoy.”
“Name your own price for my release, then!”
“Stop begging.  It’s undignified.”
Dimly, the two men could hear faint gunshots and yells.  Dillon cocked his head to listen better.  “Looks like my backup has arrived.  Now you just relax and take it easy and it’ll be all over very-“
Sunjoy suddenly moved with an easy grace that took Dillon by surprise.  He hadn’t expected Sunjoy to be able to move quite that fast.  Dillon snapped off a shot that punched through the chair behind where Professor Sunjoy had been standing, leaving a hole big enough for a man to comfortably put a fist through and at the same time he flung himself to the right as Professor Sunjoy sent three shots his way.
Dillon rolled, got under the table with the computers and used his right shoulder to send it toppling over.  The computers hit the polished Brazilian teak floor with an impressive cascade of sparks.  Two more shots from Professor Sunjoy’s Glock thudded into the table but Dillon was as safe as if he were behind armor plating so thick was it. 
He popped up and fired twice, the bullets whining dangerously past Sunjoy’s head as he dived behind his desk.   The room suddenly went dark.  Sunjoy cut all illumination within and without and Dillon couldn’t see anything but utter blackness.  He cursed himself.  He had been having too good a time watching Sunjoy suffer and this was the price he was paying for being careless.  If his time pursuing Professor Sunjoy should have taught him anything it was that he was not a man to get careless with.
However, the advantage was still his.  Sunjoy would have to make a move soon if he wanted to get away and once he did so, Dillon would be on him like dots on dice.  He could hear the yells, curses and shots getting closer.  Interpol and A.C.E.S. sounded as if they were making quick work of the thirty men Professor Sunjoy had guarding this hideout.  Professor Sunjoy was going to have to make a move soon-
-the room suddenly flooded with light as a secret door in the floor behind the desk opened and Professor Sunjoy dived into the hole.  Dillon followed after, pumping two shots before him.  But Professor Sunjoy was gone, moving with that uncanny speed he slid down the short aluminum ladder, whipped around and took off like an Olympic sprinter down an escape tunnel.  Dillon climbed down the ladder and found himself in a tunnel barely big enough to accommodate his six foot four frame.  He could see Sunjoy up ahead of him, running flat out.  Dillon pursued.  He didn’t want to kill Sunjoy if he could help it.   He had promised Randolph’s wife while standing over his grave at her side that he’d see to it that her husband’s killer was taken alive and if at all possible he intended to honor that promise.
Dillon came to a sharp corner and slowed up.  Surely Sunjoy would be waiting right around that corner with his gun ready to blast Dillon as soon as Dillon showed himself.  Dillon dropped a hand down to the Steranko belt he wore with the stylized, raised letter ‘D’ on the oval bronze belt buckle.  The Steranko belt had numerous snap shut pouches filled with devices that Dillon often found useful in his work.  The device he used now was among the simplest but had saved his life on more than on occasion: a small round mirror barely an inch wide set on a 45 degree angle on the end of a telescoping metal wand that he used to look around the corner.
 Sunjoy stood at the far end of the tunnel, a Russian RPG-7 in his hands.  And now he was the one grinning.  Dillon turned and ran back the way he came just as Professor Sunjoy fired.
The rocket hit the wall and the following explosion echoed like uncaged thunder as the ceiling collapsed, the roaring of the shattering stone loud in Dillon’s ears as he scrambled up the ladder and back into Professor Sunjoy’s office, kicking the hatch shut.
            He waved his arms to disperse the cloud of dust surging up through the cracks and turned around to find more than a dozen automatic weapons pointed at him.  He slowly raised his hands saying; “Hey, fellas...I’m on your side.”
“Dammit, Dillon!  Where’s Sunjoy?”  The statuesque, well-built woman in combat fatigues looked mad enough to shoot Dillon herself.  Thick wavy platinum gray hair had been tied into an economic ponytail that wouldn’t get in the way.  She wasn’t a young girl but even in tiger stripe camouflage fatigues it was obvious she had an hourglass figure professional fashion models would kill their own mothers for.  She pushed her way in front of her soldiers who still kept Dillon covered.  “I violated a dozen protocols to give you your shot at Sunjoy because you swore you’d deliver him!  Now where is he?”
“Look, Hartless-“
“That’s Captain Hartless to you, mister!  And if you don’t produce Sunjoy in a goddamn hurry I’m going to give you to Interpol as a consolation prize!”
Dillon had worked with Captain Edna Hartless only a few weeks now.  But that was enough for him to know that the fiery Chief of Field Operations for A.C.E.S. meant what she said.
“He got away down a secret underground tunnel.  But I can still catch him.  I know where he’s going.”
“And I suppose you expect me to let you go after him?”
“What have you got to lose at this point?  Either I get him or I don’t.  If he gets away from us now he’ll hide so well we’ll never find him.”
“Go.  But I’m sending this squad with you as backup.”
“If they can keep up with me, swell.”  Dillon ran from the room and bounded up the stone staircase to the outside.  Bodies were either lying in the street or draped over the hoods of parked cars.  The gunfire he heard was Professor Sunjoy’s men putting up a fierce last fight.  The squad of A.C.E.S troops was right behind Dillon as he sprinted over to the paved street and looked toward the docks crowded together like commuters in a New York City subway car.  Dillon saw Professor Sunjoy emerge from a hidden exit in a seemingly abandoned building and sprint towards the docks.
Dillon turned around and pushed past the bewildered squad to where one of their transport trucks waited, idling quietly.  Dillon climbed into the back, hoping that they had brought his bike like he asked.  They had.  He breathed a sigh of relief as he climbed on board the modified BMW R1200 and cranked it into booming life.  Dillon drove it right out of the back of the truck, the soldiers cursing and yelling as they ducked down out of the way, the motorcycle sailing over their heads.   The bike hit the ground, both wheels sending gravel flying.  The rear wheel fishtailed briefly before Dillon got the bike under control and took off down the road.
Professor Sunjoy had a powerfully fast hydrofoil waiting and Dillon could hear the finely tuned Naegler-Schaul engines turning over.  Dillon increased the speed of the motorcycle with one hand while the other hand dropped toward one of the two leather saddlebags on the back of the bike.  With practiced ease, Dillon unbuckled the right saddlebag and reached inside.  He knew where everything in the bag was and he could find it by touch alone.
He continued down the road, keeping his eye fixed on Sunjoy’s hydrofoil as it slowly pulled away from the dock.  Sunjoy stood in the cabin and he threw a look over his shoulder.  His face was calm, dispassionate and serene.  But his eyes glared murderous hate. 
Dillon withdrew a large black pistol with a muzzle shaped somewhat like a showerhead with a small winch on the back of the gun.  The gun didn’t shoot a bullet.  It shot a piton attached to a length of nylon cord.  He aimed it at the stern of the boat and squeezed the trigger.  With a burst of compressed gas, the piton sped, covering the distance between Dillon and the hydrofoil and the piton slammed home.
Dillon held on firmly with both hands as he was yanked from the seat of his motorcycle and sailed through the air, off the docks and smashed into the water.  The shock of hitting the water was minimal as he was expecting the impact and prepared for it.  He held onto the piton gun with both hands and kicked his way to the surface.  His head cleared the churning foam wake and he blinked water out of his eyes, clicked the switch that activated the winch.  Slowly, steadily he was pulled closer to the boat.
The hydrofoil rose out of the water.  Dillon recognized it as a German made hydrofoil, very fast.  It could get up to 50 knots and once Professor Sunjoy got it into open water and let her loose he’d be even harder to catch.  Where in the hell were the gunships Dillon had requested?  Dillon climbed onto one of the struts and caught his breath.  He looked back toward the shore.  He could make out several speedboats being launched but it was too little too late.  They’d never catch the hydrofoil.  Dillon climbed up to the deck, water sheeting over him as he did so.
Sunjoy stood at the wheel, his back to Dillon who clambered over the side and landed on the deck with a thud! that was louder than he would have liked but apparently Sunjoy hadn’t heard.  Dillon wiped water from his eyes and crept closer.  Sunjoy had a headset on and spoke rapidly into the microphone.  So he was distracted.  Good.  This would make it easier.
A Scorpion Attack Helicopter swooped in from the east and came in low over the hydrofoil and hovered over it while the loudspeakers blared; “Cut your engines, Sunjoy!  Cut your engines immediately or we will open fire!”
Sunjoy responded by quickly locking the wheel into position and leaping from the controls onto the main deck.  In his hand was a M79 grenade launcher which he fired at the Scorpion, a wicked grin on his face.
Dillon leaped to the attack but he was too late.  The grenade hit the canopy of the Scorpion and exploded.  The glass was armored but even so, the grenade was at such close range it shattered the inch thick glass into flying razors of death that hit the pilot and co-pilot right in their faces.  The Scorpion skewed wildly out of control.
Sunjoy swung the grenade launcher at Dillon’s head.  He ducked and blasted in a sizzling straight punch that caught Professor Sunjoy in the mid-section.  Professor Sunjoy doubled over, the weapon flying from his hand.  He stumbled backwards and Dillon waded in, throwing brutal punches: left, right, left, right that snapped Professor Sunjoy’s head back and forth.
The Scorpion plummeted toward the water, barely missing the hydrofoil.  The turbulence kicked up by the blades rocked the hydrofoil and knocked both Dillon and Professor Sunjoy off their feet.  Dillon rolled, painfully smashing into a storage locker.
Professor Sunjoy got to his feet first and drove a knee into Dillon’s chest.  Dillon let out a ragged squawk.  And then Sunjoy was battering him with bony fists that felt like maces as they descended on his face and shoulders.  And Sunjoy spoke in a voice of utter calm that was incongruous with the rage on his face.  “You stinking gutter waste.  You have no idea what it is that you’ve done.  But you’ve interfered in the affairs of your betters for the last time I assure you of-AWK!” Sunjoy was cut off as Dillon’s booted left foot came up and around and slammed into the side of his head, throwing him across the tilting deck.
Dillon surged to his feet and leaped across the deck.  Sunjoy fumbled inside his suit jacket for something and Dillon landed on him like an offensive tackle of doom, pinning his arms.  Dillon’s hot golden eyes burned with molten fury as he looked into Sunjoy’s pewter gray ones.  “So you think that just because you have a few more brain cells than most of humanity that somehow makes you better than them? That it makes you fit to decide that you judge who gets to live and who doesn’t?  Where do things like you come from?” 
Sunjoy roared and tried to break free.  There was something in his hand and as Dillon was thrown off of him he heard it go pop!  The two men lay on their backs and watched in horror as the grenade bounced wildly on the deck between them, the pin in Sunjoy’s hand.
Dillon scrambled to his feet and dived overboard, the hydrofoil speeding away as he hit the water and with powerful strokes went deeper to get away from the blast.  The shock of the hydrofoil exploding thrummed through the churning waters.  Dillon angled back upwards and broke the surface, wiping water from his face.
About a hundred yards distant, the flaming wreckage of the hydrofoil slowed to a stop.  The entire deck was ablaze and Dillon wondered if Professor Sunjoy had time to jump over the side as he had.  The hydrofoil exploded again as the flames reached the fuel lines and something hit Dillon on the side of his head with enough impact to knock him out.  He slipped underwater, slowly dropping into the blackness below him…



            Dillon’s eyes slowly opened to look up at a white ceiling.  The antiseptic smell of the room told him he was in an infirmary or a hospital somewhere.  He sat up, feeling the side of his head gingerly.  It felt sore and tender.  Somebody who knew what they were doing had been working on it.  The wound had been cleaned.  He sniffed his fingers.  Some kind of antiseptic ointment had been applied to the wound.  He sat on a bed in a small examination room.  He had been undressed and was garbed on one of those terribly embarrassing hospital gowns with the back out.  He carefully climbed off the bed, eager to find out where he was and more importantly, if Professor Sunjoy been caught.
The door opened and Captain Edna Hartless walked in, Dillon’s clothes in her arms.  “Thought you’d be out for the rest of the day, man,” she grunted, handing over his clothes.  “That was some knock to the head you took.”
“What hit me?”
“Debris from Sunjoy’s boat blowing up. We had a bunch of boats in the water and a couple of my men saw you get hit and go under.  They dived in and pulled you out.  The doctor that worked on you said you’ve got the hardest head he’s ever seen.”  Edna Hartless pointed at a metal cabinet next to the bed.  “Your gun and the rest of your gear are in there.  I left them in there while I had your clothes dried.”
“Mighty nice of you, Hartless.”
Captain Hartless.  And I don’t know what you’re so smug about, you son of a bitch.  You’re gonna get my ass fired.”
“Don’t tell me Sunjoy got away?”  Dillon shucked the gown and stood there naked.  Edna Hartless didn’t look away and indeed, sized him up with what appeared to be indifferent disdain.  But she was feeling a familiar warmth in places she hadn’t felt warmth for some time now.  She put her mind back on business and continued.
“What I’m about to tell you is only known to me and my men: after we dragged you out of the water I sent divers down to look for Sunjoy’s remains while I assigned others to do a sweep of the shoreline.  We found a single bloody handprint on a dock and bloody footprints leading from the dock to the street.  The footprints abruptly ended after about ten feet.”
Dillon slipped into his short-sleeved khaki T- shirt.  “You trying to tell me that Sunjoy survived?”
“You did.”
“Yeah, but I’m special.”  Dillon buckled up his black jeans and went over to the cabinet and took out his Steranko belt, holster and gun and his leather jacket.  He checked his belt and gun.  “So where does that leave you?”
“I could hand you over to Interpol and let you take the blame for this whole mess.  Dammit, Dillon-“
            He held up a hand.  “Look, Hartless.  I had just as much reason to get Sunjoy as you did.  Maybe more.  I’m not proud of the fact that I let him get away.  That means that he’ll come back one day.  I’m not fond of looking over my shoulder.  And what good would handing me over to Interpol do anyway?”  Dillon’s flashed her his Cheshire Cat grin.  “Assuming that I would let you hand me over to them in the first place.  And let’s say I did.  That means I’d have to waste a day escaping from them.”
“Which is why I’m going to make you a deal.”
“I’m listening.”
“As far as anybody here knows, you and Sunjoy both blew up on that boat.  My men are sworn to secrecy.  My report will state that both you and Professor Sunjoy were on the hydrofoil when it exploded.”
“They’ll ask why you didn’t search for bodies.”
“I did.  I didn’t find any.”
“They’re not going to buy that.”
“The way I sell it they will.  You are going to get gone.”  Edna Hartless walked closer and poked a finger in Dillon’s muscular chest.  “But from now on, Professor Sunjoy is your responsibility.  You get a line on him you drop what you’re doing and check it out.  And when you find him you give me a call.”
“You’re still going to be in a lot of hot water when I turn up alive.”
“Yeah, but that won’t be for a while and when you do I’ll tell my bosses that it would be best for all concerned if we didn’t make a big noise about it.  After all, if you’re alive then that means that Sunjoy might be alive as well.   And nobody wants that.”
Dillon slipped his arms into his leather jacket.  “You really think that Sunjoy is going to re-surface after all this?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to hide out in some remote corner of the world?  He as much as told me that there was going to be some pretty pissed off people looking for him once his plan didn’t come off.”
“Sunjoy may lay low for a while to heal up but he’s going to show up one day.  Sooner or later.  And don’t forget that’s he’s got a real big bone to pick with you.”
“I hate to say it but you’re right.”  Dillon impulsively leaned forward and kissed Edna on the lips.  “It’s been fun, Hartless.  Seeya.”  He headed for the door.
Edna licked her tingling lips before saying; “You’re bike’s at the rear of the hospital.  One of my men is watching it.  And yeah…it was kinda fun….”
Dillon winked at her just before going out the door.  He didn’t have much trouble finding the staircase and walking downstairs to the ground level.  By the looks of the place it was a small private hospital and once he got outside he saw it was located on the outskirts of Madrid.  One of Edna’s men saluted and gestured to where Dillon’s bike stood, slightly dinged up and scraped where it had fallen over but it was okay.  He climbed on board and started it up. 
            As flippant as he tried to be when speaking with Edna, Dillon knew she was right about one thing: Professor Alonzo Sunjoy would return.  And Dillon would be ready for him when he did. 
But for now he was going to find himself a restaurant and have an excellent meal.  Then he was going to find a club where the music was hot and the women had eyes full of passionate promise.
Dillon roared off down the road into the growing dusk and was soon lost to sight.













Saturday, November 12, 2011

FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON Is Live For Your Kindle!

You asked for it...nay, you demanded it and at last it's here! FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON  is now available from Amazon.com for your Kindle!  So what are you waiting for?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Casting Call #10: Dr. Aristotle Numby

Dr. Numby figures into DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN when he captures Dillon with the intention of collecting the sizable bounty that has been placed on his head by Odin.  Dr. Numby is engaged in research involving genetics and bionics and could use the $10 million he'd get for turning Dillon over to Odin.  And who do I see as Dr. Numby?

Who else but my current favorite Mad Scientist, FRINGE's John Noble?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Want DILLON For Your Kindle or Nook?

Starting today and continuing through the holiday season the prices on the first two Dillon adventures available as ebooks have been dropped so that you and your friends can take advantage and get in on the pulse pounding excitement!

First of all, DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL is now $1.99!  That's right, a measly buck ninety-nine!

Second and even more amazing is that the first fantastic Dillon adventure, DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN is now FREE.

Yeah, you read that right.  The ebook of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN is now FREE.

And look for news about the availability of FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON as an ebook soon right here.




Just follow this handy dandy link to get your copy of both on Smashwords where you can download them for your Kindle or Nook or whatever.  Read and enjoy!  Now get outta here and let me get back to work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coming Attractions #1


So now that Four Bullets For Dillon is done and hopefully sitting somewhere on your bookshelf, what can you expect from my boy in the coming year?

I’m glad you asked.  From time to time I’ll be providing these Coming Attractions to let you know how far along to completion the various Dillon projects I have in mind are.  A large part of me telling you about these projects is the hope that if you haven’t heard anything about any of them for awhile, you’ll huck a brick my way to remind me.  So let’s see what we’ve got on deck:

Dillon and The Pirates of Xonira: currently we’re at roughly 48,000 words on this one.  48,357 to be exact.  This makes it the closest to completion. The background info can be found here.  This one I intend to have finished before the end of the year and ready for publication in Spring of 2012.

The Vril Agenda: This is a project that is so special it deserves its own entry, which you’ll see soon.  If you listened to my two-part interview on the PULPED! Podcast then you know the background.  But just in case you didn't, here's the short version: Josh Reynolds and I are collaborating on an epic adventure featuring Dillon and Jim Anthony.  Half of the novel takes place in 1937 where Jim Anthony confronts a world-threatening plot that can only be conquered years later when a long-retired Jim Anthony teams up with a young and inexperienced would-be adventurer named Dillon!  Josh has done his half of the book; 30,000 words and now all I have to do is my 30,000 and it’ll be done.  This is a joint Airship 27/Pulpwork Press project that will hopefully be published in 2012.

Dillon and The Last Rail to Khusra: This is a story that was intended for “For Bullets For Dillon” but gradually grew longer and longer and I decided to just let it go as long as it needed to be.  Right now it stands at 20,390 words.  It’s about Dillon’s efforts to rescue a ten year old princess from a North African country being torn apart by civil war.  He has to take her by train to Khusra, a country that figures significantly in my Fortune McCall stories.

Dead Beat In Khusra: For those of you who read and enjoyed “Dead Beat In La Esca” this is the one for you as it reunites best frenemies Dillon and Sly Gantlet in a story that is a direct sequel to “Dillon and The Last Rail to Khusra” and Dillon once again encounters Princess Sathyra from “Dillon and the Escape From Tosegio”.  How she ties in with a biological superweapon and the desperate hunt for a lost Nazi base in the North African desert…well, that’s going to take a lot of wordage to tell.  This and “Last Rail” will most likely be two of the stories in a second Dillon anthology.  You want to write a story for it, let me know.

Dillon and The Devil’s Bounty: This one I’m not going to go into detail yet other than to say that it’s based on a plot by Josh Reynolds and guest-stars The Pulptress

Any questions?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just In Case You Missed Them The First Time Around...

…there was a whole bunch of really nice reviews written about my work this past week.  First up, All Pulp staffer Brent Lambert provided a thoughtful analysis of “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell”.  Then Don Gates was good enough to write a review of “Four Bullets For Dillon” for that book’s Amazon.com page.  Finally, internet marketing supergenius Mat Nastos shares his thoughts on “Four Bullets For Dillon”  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

#2 In The "So Where Do Get Your Ideas From," Dept.

Even though I don't listen to music while I write first drafts, music is a huge influence on me.  I should be paying John Williams and Ennio Morricone royalties for how much I play their soundtracks when I write my second and third drafts.  And there's a song by Anita Baker that I consider to be the theme song to "Dillon And The Voice of Odin" simply because it seemed that every time I sat down to write that blasted book, the damn song was playing on the radio.   And this guy Bruno Mars should go on my payroll for his "The Lazy Song" because the more I listened to it, the more I thought of what would Dillon do on a day where he didn't feel like doing anything?

Out of all of this came the idea for "Dillon and The Lazy Day" where I could show where Dillon has his main residence in the Pennsylvania town of Grand.  In that town Dillon lives in a renovated piano factory.  And if you want to know where I got the idea for that...watch...





So now we go onto the song that inspired "Dillon and The Lazy Day" which I have 8000 words of notes for already.  The first video is the one by Bruno Mars:







While the second one, featuring Leonard Nimoy is my favorite and probably will be more closer in tone to what I have in mind for my story:


But the main thing is this; you'll get to see what Dillon does when he decides to take a day off and I guarantee this: whatever you think it'll be, it won't.  Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Pulp: Behind The Veil-An Analysis of Dillon From A Black Perspective

All Pulp Staffer Brent Lambert has been good enough to write up an analysis of DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL from the modern black perspective.  Don't believe me?  Go read it for yourself!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From The "So Where Do You Get Your Ideas" Dept.


So Patricia and I are driving down Eastern Parkway on our way to a sale.  I have no idea what was on sale or why we absolutely had to have this particular item.    Most of my married life seems to be going to sales for some reason.  I dunno.  Patricia’s justification for buying anything is four simple words; “But it’s on sale.”  I’ve learned to just smile sweetly and go along for the ride.

On this particular day we’re listening to WINS 1010 the premier all-news radio station here in New York and a story comes on the radio that strikes me as utterly bizarre:  A New York judge ruled on a lawsuit brought against Al-Qaeda by insurance companies for damages to property and businesses in the 9/11 attacks.  Al-Qaeda never responded to the lawsuit (big surprise) and was ruled to be in default.  So this judge rules that A-Qaeda owes $9.3 billion.  You can’t make this stuff up.  If you don’t believe me, check it out.

I honestly don’t know whether to be outraged by what I perceive to be a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money or laugh myself into a hernia.  I say to Patricia; “Don’t they have to be served with a subpoena or something?  How do you serve papers on a terrorist organization?  And how do you collect the money?  These are guys who get up in the morning, punch a clock then go on out to kill people and blow up shit.  Does this judge really believe they give a cuss about paying damages?  And who do you get to serve the papers anyway?”

Patricia continues to turn the pages of her newspaper while replying quietly; “That sounds like it would make a good Dillon story, don’t you think?”

Once I finished the ranting and raving, I realized that she might have something there.  I already have a terrorist organization named Crimson Fist that has been mentioned in “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell” where an incident is mentioned where Dillon prevented them from detonating a nuclear bomb in New York.  And in “Dillon and The Judas Chalice” he deactivates an EMP bomb they’ve set to detonate in Denbrook.   So I’ve got my terrorist organization.  And this story needs some lawyers and I’ve been looking for the opportunity to introduce Dillon’s lawyers; Dolly and David Zimmerman and their partner, the five-foot tall, Angela Davis afro-wearing Henry ‘Fuzzy’ Fraley.

So far I’ve got about 7000 words of notes for the story.  I have no idea yet as to how I’m going to do the big band dance sequence or the parkour chase sequence in prose but what’s life without challenges, right?  I’ll let you know when I come up with a title.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Casting Call #9: Chew Mi

Chew Mi is the deadly right-hand of mad scientist Dr. Numby.  She oversees the security of his castle fortress with a cadre of professional soldiers and cyborgs at her beck and call.  She also loves to dress up in garish military uniforms, prompting Dillon to remark that she look like a "G.I. Joe" character.  Who do I see as Chew Mi?

I've liked  Maggie Q ever since I saw her in "Live Free or Die Hard" and she impressed me so much that I think she should have been the main bad guy in that movie.


However, my good friend Perry Constantine says that he always visualizes Ziyi Zhang when he reads DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN and I can see why:


Friday, October 7, 2011

Casting Call #8: Alistair Frayne

Alistair Frayne is a mercenary hired by Lady Thelma Sharpe to track down Dillon and recover the black opal ring that everybody and their mother is hunting for in DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN.  Frayne is refined, cultured and ruthless in his job.  And here's who I think would do a good job playing this character:






Why Jude Law?  Because he's just as good playing a bad guy as he is at playing a good guy.  He just doesn't get enough of chance to do so.

Monday, September 26, 2011

FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON Is Live!

A lost city in the Cambodian jungles run by a pint-sized tyrant wearing a gem-encrusted belt buckle. Beautiful women who lure Dillon and his rival, rock musician Sly Gantlet, into a clash of alpha males and a deadly set-up.  A beautiful queen and a backstabbing friend.  A quest for an evil artifact linked to the betrayer of Christ. FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON includes four hard to find and never before seen stories ripped from the life of global adventurer Dillon!  Ordering information can be found at Amazon.com or Pulpwork Press

And remember that with proof of purchase of FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON you'll also get the 10 page illustrated "Dillon And The Escape From Tosegio"  Details can be found here.

In addition, for more information on the stories please feel free to click on the links provided below:

And Now, Behind The Scenes: "Dillon and The Bad Ass Belt Buckle"
And Now, Behind The Scenes: "Dead Beat In La Esca"
And Now, Behind The Scenes: "Dillon and The Judas Chalice"







Finally, just in case you think I'm a bit biased (and I am) why not bounce on over to the Reviews and check out what others have to say about Dillon.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Casting Call #7: Gregory Tipp

A powerful and influential administrator in Her Majesty's Secret Service, Tipp spends a great deal of time in DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN chasing Dillon all over the English countryside, always just one step behind his elusive quarry.  My pick for the dogged Mr. Tipp:






Why Ben Cross?  He always seems to play characters with determination and no sense of humor whatsoever.  Qualities Gregory Tipp possesses in abundance.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pulp Magnet Attracts DILLON!

Garrison James has written a comprehensive overview of Dillon's origins in his "Pulp Magnet" column over at NEW PULP.  Check it out.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Casting Call #6: John Velvet

John Velvet is the Director of the American Intelligence Machine aka A.I.M. or The Machine. As such, his position is one of tremendous power and influence. It's also a position that puts him in opposition with Dillon whenever they run into each other as they often do.  My pick for the guy:


Why Ray Stevenson? I just like the guy. And I don't think he gets enough roles where he gets to wear cool tailored suits.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Casting Call #5: Frederick Whalen

Frederick Whalen aka 'The Whale' is Lady Thelma's trusted bodyguard.  Abandoned by his parents, even as a boy he possessed freakish strength.  Lady Thelma took the boy with her to London and saw to it that he was educated in the finest schools and taught a wide range of martial arts.  A formidable combination of brains and brawn, Frederick Whalen earns a place as one of Dillon's most dangerous enemies.  And the guy I see playing The Whale is a no-brainer:


At 6' 9" and 300 pounds, Tyler Mane most certainly has the physical qualifications for the part.  And as he's proven in movies such as X-MEN, the two Rob Zombie directed HALLOWEEN movies and TROY he can certainly project an imposing menace on screen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON Update

I hope you’ve been saving up your milk money for next month because that’s when FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON will at last be available from Pulpwork Press.  The exact date will be announced soon.  But in the meantime, here’s something for you to look forward to.  A little something to sweeten the deal, so to speak.

First, some history: back in 2005, those of us who were writing for FRONTIER got the bright idea to produce a comic book: FRONTIER PUBLISHING PRESENTS.  And after a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, the first and only issue was published.  And in that comic book were some fine stories produced by;

Trevor Carrington
Shelton Bryant
Mike McGee
Tamas Jakab
Michael Exner III

Gentlemen all!

FRONTIER PUBLISHING PRESENTS #1 also had as the lead story a 10 page story scripted by Russ Anderson, based on a story written by Yours Truly and masterfully illustrated by Alex Kosakowski; “Dillon and The Escape From Tosegio”  The original prose story is included in FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON.

But I wanted to give folks a chance to read the comic book story as there’s no way to buy a copy now.  I’ve got about a dozen issues of FRONTIER PUBLISHING PRESENTS and quite honestly, I don’t want to part with them.  But occasionally I do get emails from Dillon fans who want to read the story and I don’t blame ‘em.  It’s a good one.  Russ and Alex did a helluva job.

So here’s what I did: I scanned the 10 page story and here’s my offer plain and simple: you buy a copy of FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON and email me proof of purchase (DerrickFerguson1@aol.com) and in return, I send you the illustrated “Dillon and The Escape From Tosegio.”  Sounds fair to you?

And naturally I expect that you want a look at what you’re going to be getting so here’s a preview: the first two pages of “Dillon and The Escape From Tosegio”



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Casting Call #4: Kris Quinlan

She starts out as Lady Thelma's trusted personal assistant but quickly gets caught up in the whirlwind of action at Dillon's side as he avoids the hired assassins of her boss.  She's an unwilling ally for most of the story until her eyes are finally opened as to the hideous danger of The Voice of Odin.  She's Kris Quinlan and here's who I think would be a good choice for the role:


  


Why Malin Akerman?  Because I think she's a far better actress than she gets credit for.  And judging from "Watchmen" she's not afraid of throwing herself into the physical stuff.

Casting Call #3: Lady Thelma Sharpe

She's the one who sets off the events of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN in a lot of ways.  And she continues to stir the soup by actively participating in the hunt for Dillon through a good part of the book as well as making a last ditch attempt to kill him after everybody has long forgotten about her and think the adventure is over.  Who do I see as Lady Thelma?





Why Carol Burnett?  Even though she's deadly serious in her efforts to kill Dillon, there's a lot of comedic elements to her, fueled by her Olympian consumption of alcohol.  I've seen Miss Burnett play mean drunks and that's the very definition of Lady Thelma.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Casting Call #2: Eli Creed

He shows up near the end of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN to lend a hand but he's in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL from start to finish, backing up his partner with his wisdom, common sense, experience and plain ol' cussedness. He's Dillon's mentor and best friend Elias Patrick Creed and there's only one face and voice I see and hear when writing Eli's scenes:



But there's a lot of folks who tell me that they think this guy would be a better Eli Creed:



Friday, July 29, 2011

Casting Call #1: DILLON

Invariably in discussions on Skype, email or in person, folks will ask me if I ever think there will be a Dillon movie (I can only hope..poppa needs a new pair of EVERYTHING) and I'll be asked who I think should play Dillon and the various characters in the books.  So why not indulge our inner casting directors and play the Casting Call Game?

To start with, way back when Dillon was first showing up in monthly installments in the gone-but-not-forgotten FRONTIER days, my good buddy Russ Anderson made a suggestion for this good lookin' cat to play Dillon in a movie:



Back in the day I was a regular watcher of "NYPD Blue" and when Henry Simmons joined the cast I was impressed with his on-screen presence, his voice, his physicality and I thought he'd make a perfect Dillon:




But here's the guy who a lot of people tell me they see as Dillon:


And recently I've found a new contender for the role. I've been enjoying him immensely in his role as John Diggle, the partner of Oliver Queen/The Vigilante/The Hood on ARROW:

David Ramsey certainly has the physicality and acting chops. Doesn't hurt that he's also an accomplished martial artist with a black belt in jeet kune do and he's studied kickboxing.




Thursday, July 14, 2011

FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON Update

At last you get a chance to see the finished cover of the upcoming FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON.  The artwork is courtesy of Anthony Castrillo while the lettering and design work was done by the extraordinarily talented Damon Orrell.  You need to bounce on over to his website
http://www.damonorrell.com  and check out all his other goodness.  And keep watching for further news on the release date of the book and no, it's not too early to start saving your milk money to get your copy.  Trust me when I say that it'll be worth it.










Monday, July 4, 2011

Dillon And The Voice of Odin: The Conclusion


“I simply cannot get over this car.  Where did you get it?”

            Dillon and Kris were riding in a huge silver beast of a car that turned heads as they drove to the West Manhattan condo Kris’s sister lived in, not far from the West Side Highway.  It was an elegant, streamlined car--a convertible--and Dillon had the top down so they could enjoy the bright sunshine pouring down on the city.  The massive hood was twice as long as a modern car’s and the large engine thrummed with barely contained power.  Kris couldn’t get over the size of the front seat.  It was like sitting on a living room sofa. 

            Dillon was tapping the steering wheel, listening to a Celine Dion CD.  “This is a 1959 Bethea Roadmaster.  One of the finest examples of an automobile you’re likely to see.  I bought it about ten years ago.  Cost me a fortune to have it rebuilt and refitted but it’s worth it.”

            “You never cease to amaze me, you know that?”  Kris asked.  She was wearing a smart red pantsuit while Dillon wore a double-breasted pale gray suit.  They had spent a couple of days in Antofagasto after their narrow escape and then Eli had flown them to New York, where Dillon intended to deliver Kris to her sister.  Now that the danger was over, there was no reason why she couldn’t pick up her life again.

            But Kris found herself having strange feelings she hadn’t felt before.  Despite all the danger and the death she had seen and experienced since meeting Dillon, she couldn’t deny that she had never felt more alive.  She now understood something about him: the rush you felt when you rolled the dice against Death and won.  She had to admit, even though she’d been terrified half the time, the other half had been fun.  And she wasn’t sure she wanted it to end.

            Dillon pulled up in front a gleaming white spire that thrust upwards some 40 stories.  The doorman hurried over and said, “You can’t park here, sir.  Sorry.”

            Dillon handed over a $50 bill.  “I’m just going to see the lady upstairs and I’ll be right back down . . . give me ten minutes okay?”

            The doorman made the bill disappear with a skill that would have wrenched a gasp of envy from David Copperfield, and made a slight bow, touching the shining black brim of his cap.  “Very good, sir.”

            Dillon and Kris walked into the lobby.  “I love New York,” Dillon said.  A bank of a dozen elevators was to their left.  Kris placed a hand on Dillon’s arm.

            “I want to say something before we go up to my sister’s.” 

            Dillon nodded.  “Sure.  Is everything okay?”

            Kris took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around his neck.  “Won’t you change your mind and take me with you?”

            Dillon’s arms went around her waist and his copper eyes were serious and somber as he said; “I can’t, Kris.  Really.  I don’t have a normal life, as you can see.  But I’ve never had a normal life.  I’m used to this.  This is the only life I know.  And I’ve got too much to do yet.  I made a promise to my mother and I haven’t fulfilled that promise yet.”

            Kris sighed and placed her head on his chest.  “Don’t you want to be in love?  To get married?  Have children?”

            Dillon lifted her head and kissed her gently.  “Of course I do.  I’m arrogant, insensitive and rude, but I’m human as well.  I want all those things.  But not now.  Not now.”  He kissed her again.

            Kris nodded and blinked back the tears that wanted to spill from her eyes.  “Well, when you change you mind, look a girl up, okay?”

            Dillon kissed the tip of her nose.  “That’s a promise.  Now, let’s go take you to your sister before I change my mind.”


***


            A very petite woman who looked like a smaller version of Kris, except that her eyes were lighter in color and her hair was cut short, framing a heart-shaped face, opened the door.  “Oh, my God!” she shrieked upon seeing them.  “Didn’t you get my message?”

            Kris hugged her sister Anna and kissed her warmly on the cheek.  “Dillon hasn’t checked his messages since we landed an hour ago.  I wanted to get right over here and see you and he’s got to leave right away.”

            Anna’s eyes were large and full of meaning as she said quickly; “Why don’t you go back downstairs and I’ll meet you--”

            Dillon instantly picked up that something was wrong and reached out to yank Kris back out of the apartment; but from behind the door, a massive hand shot out and seized Anna by the neck.  A familiar voice snarled, “Come inside and close the door or I snap her neck like a chicken’s.”

            Kris squealed in fear, but stepped inside. Dillon followed and shut the door.  Frederick Whalen stepped into view, his hand still wrapped around Anna’s neck.  “That’s right,” The Whale said in that voice that rumbled like two boulders grinding together.  “Let’s all just relax and be friends.”  He raised his voice slightly and said, “I have the situation under control, Lady Thelma.”

            Lady Thelma Sharpe came stumbling in from the master bedroom, one wrinkled claw of a hand wrapped around tall glass of vodka.  She looked terrible.  Her eyes were red and her hair was stringy and unkempt.  Her soiled brown dress looked as if she’d been sleeping in it for days, whereas The Whale looked cool and capable in khaki pants and a crisp white shirt.  “At last,” Lady Thelma cackled.  “At last.”

            Dillon was honestly surprised to see them here.  He’d actually forgotten about them after the throwdown at Numby Castle.  “I got to give you two points for persistence.  How the hell did you know we’d be showing up here?”

            Lady Thelma flopped into a leather recliner and took a gulp of vodka.  “I know more about Kris than she knows about herself.  I knew she’d show up at her sister’s house eventually.  It was just a matter of being patient and placing a tap on her phone and waiting until Kris called her.”

            Whalen released Anna and she ran over to hug Kris.  “I’m sorry!  I didn’t know Lady Thelma was like this!  Before I knew what was happening, they were inside and told me that they’d kill the children if I didn’t co-operate!”

            Dillon’s copper eyes darkened to molten gold.  He looked up at Whalen.  “Y’know, I thought you were a professional.  Threatening kids isn’t professional.”

            Whalen was unmoved.  “Where is Lady Thelma’s ring?”

            “Blown to Hell and gone.  Along with Odin, Chew Mi and the Gynts.  I’ve settled all accounts with them in full.”

            "Liar!"  Lady Thelma shrieked and threw the glass at Dillon.  He ducked,  smoothly drew his Magnum Desert Eagle and fired at Whalen.  The heavy Magnum slug smashed into Whalen’s thigh and the giant’s long arm swept out and smacked Dillon’s arm with an impact he felt in his whole body.  The gun went flying across the room to hit the wall.  But by then, Dillon had rolled under Whalen’s follow-up swing.  His foot pistoned into Whalen’s ribs and everybody heard a distinct CRACK! as two of his ribs broke.

            Kris yowled like a stepped on cat and leaped across the room to land on Lady Thelma.  The recliner went tumbling over and both women were screeching and cursing as they rolled over and over, punching and kicking.

            Whalen’s fist looped up and around and slammed into Dillon’s chest.  Dillon went sailing through the air to hit the wall hard enough to crack plaster.  He dropped to the floor, gasping for breath, shaking his head to clear it.  Whalen rushed him and ran right into Dillon’s switchblade, which slid from the ejection sheath strapped on his right forearm.  The blade took him in the stomach and Whalen roared and seized Dillon with both hands, clean jerking him right off the floor to slam into the ceiling.  Dillon’s right foot lashed out to crack Whalen in the nose, splitting it like a tomato.  Blood gushed as if from a garden hose.

            Kris got to her feet and kicked off her pumps.  “Go make sure the kids are okay!”  she yelled over her shoulder to Anna.  Lady Thelma got to her feet, and from a pocket of her dress withdrew a kitchen knife.

            “I’m going to cut you until there’s nothing left but bone!”  Lady Thelma snarled, waving the knife in front of her, advancing slowly.

            Kris was bobbing and weaving like Sugar Ray Leonard on his best day.  “Come on and do it then, bitch.  ‘Cause I’m about sick and tired of taking your shit!”

            Whalen dropped Dillon, who rolled between the giant’s legs and came up behind him.  He reached down to his belt and twisted the buckle.  It came free, along with a length of nylon cord.  Dillon leaped on The Whale’s back, wrapped the cord around his neck and twisted viciously, whispering into Whalen’s right ear, “You wanna threaten kids, big man?  Lemme show you what I do to tough guys who threaten kids.”

            Dillon’s corded muscles bunched and the sleeves of his suit jacket split as he pulled backwards with all his strength, shoving his feet into the small of Whalen’s back at the same time.  Both men fell backwards and Dillon shoved up and out with every bit of power he had.  Incredibly, The Whale’s massive body went sailing the length of the apartment, right over the heads of Lady Thelma and Kris and right through the double doors leading to the balcony.  There was an impressive smash as the glass door disintegrated.

            Lady Thelma gawped at seeing Whalen manhandled thus.  Kris neatly stepped in and swung her small fist, striking Lady Thelma’s jaw with such force that it shattered like cheap china.  Lady Thelma dropped to her knees, the knife clattering on the parquet wood floor.

            Dillon set himself and charged out onto the balcony, his hot golden eyes burning with that terrible anger that was usually the last thing his enemies ever saw.  Whalen got shakily to his feet, his once white shirt now completely red, and his head came up as Dillon’s foot took him full in the chest.  Frederick Whalen went over the railing and fell 12 stories to the street, where he landed with enough impact to shatter sixty percent of the bones in his body.  He lay on the sidewalk, an immense, bloody slab of muscle that had just enough life left to see Dillon’s face looking over the railing.  And those golden eyes blazing with a molten fire of righteousness.
            Dillon went back inside the apartment.  The fight had been short, but the living room was a wreck.  Anna would be remodeling for days.  Dillon hurriedly reached for his wallet and pulled out a handful of bills.  He pressed them into Kris’s hand.  “Give this to your sister and tell her sorry for the mess.”

            “I will!  I will.  But you get out of here!  The police will be here soon!”

            Dillon gestured at the unconscious woman on the floor.  “What about her?”

            Kris waved a disdainful hand.  “I can handle her.  You just go!”

            Dillon was digging through his pockets.  “I got something for you.  A little souvenir of your adventure.  Ah, here we go!”  Dillon withdrew the golden ring he’d taken from the control center of The Voice of Odin and slipped it on the index finger of her left hand where it fitted perfectly.  “I had it resized back in Chile.”

            Kris looked at the sparkling opal that was actually a piece of the stars.  A piece that had powered the most dangerous weapon on Earth.  “Oh…I don’t know what to say…”

            Dillon kissed her warmly.  “Don’t say anything. Just take care of yourself, Kris.  Always take care of yourself.”  And then he was gone out the door.


***


            Dillon drove furiously down the West Side Highway.  He was pursued by several police cars that had their sirens blaring and their bubblegum lights spinning like mad.  After leaping over the dead body of The Whale, he'd jumped into his car and headed for the dock where Eli was waiting with the cargo plane.  He could see the plane as it kicked the water into a frothing spray going.  Eli was warming up the engines.

            His cell phone rang and he reached for it, flipped it open.  “I’m busy, Eli!”

            “Just wanted you to know that the Coast Guard has been alerted.  You want to step on it?”

            “Open the hatch and start takeoff!”

            “You gotta be shittin’ me.”

            “Just do it!”  Dillon yelled and weaved around slower traffic as he stepped on the gas.  The powerful engine of the Roadmaster boomed and the vehicle surged forward like a metallic greyhound, leaving slower cars in its wake.

            The cargo plane moved slowly away from the dock, even as the rear cargo doors slowly opened.

            Dillon drove onto the dock, raising a shower of sparks from the car’s underside as it cleared a low curb and landed with a bone-jangling impact on the wooden dock.  The police cars followed.  Dillon gritted his teeth and tromped on the gas pedal. 

            The Roadmaster leaped off the dock, speeding through the air a dozen feet above the water, to land inside the cargo plane with a crash of breaking glass and crunching metal.  The doors closed as Eli gunned the engines, and the cargo plane bounced over the choppy waves and lifted into the air.

            Dillon climbed out of his car and looked ruefully at the smoke billowing from the hood.  He walked to the cockpit, loosening his tie, and flopped into the co-pilot’s seat.  “Y’know, I lose more cars this way.”

            Eli looked at his friend and shook his head.  “Where to now?”

            Dillon shrugged;  “Where else do the heroes fly off to?  Into the sunset, bro…into the sunset.”


            Anna had made sure her two children were fine.  Lady Thelma had made them drink shots of vodka to put them to sleep and they would wake up no worse the wear.  Anna walked through the wreck of her living room to find Kris standing on the balcony, fingering a golden ring on her finger.  She was watching a plane fly into the sunset and tears were flowing freely down her face.

            Anna touched Kris on the shoulder.  Kris half turned and bent down to hug Anna tightly.

            “Kris, are you all right?”

            “Oh, my…YES…I’m all right…” Kris turned back to watch the plane disappear into the blazing corona of the setting sun and she laughed with true happiness.  “We’re ALL going to be all right.”




                                                                         THE END