Monday, June 13, 2011

CHAPTER SIXTEEN


“…And there is still no word on exactly how many are dead or injured from the latest attack by the international terrorist known only as Odin.  He has indiscriminately attacked mass transit operations around the world with a weapon he calls The Voice of Odin, and has so far knocked at least nine airplanes out the sky.  The airplanes belonged to airlines of American, Japanese and British origin.  Five ocean liners sunk were of Dutch and Bahamian registry.  Several hours after the attacks began, all air travel was grounded and all ships were ordered to return to their homeports.  Odin’s latest attack has effectively ended air and ocean travel around the world.  To repeat our top story…”

“Wake up!  Wake up, you lout!”  Kris shoved Dillon hard enough to rouse him out of his sound sleep.  He sat up on the air mattress and blinked the sleep out of his eyes.

Kris had already climbed out from under the covers and was getting dressed quickly.  Dillon took a few minutes to admire the wonderful effect of the early morning sunlight on her tanned skin.  “You know, you don’t have to climb out of bed so quickly, Kris…”

Kris yanked up the zipper on her khaki shorts and looked for her boots.  “Don’t you hear the radio?  Odin has struck again and we’re out here in the jungle dallying while the world goes to hell!”

Dillon stretched his long arms and yawned lazily.  “Seems to me you weren’t all that concerned about dallying last night when you—“

“I’ll thank you to not remind me of what occurred last night!”  Kris laced her boots with quick, snappy movements of her fingers.  “What happened last night was the result of us being together for quite a long time.  It’s only natural—“

“A beautiful full moon helped as well…not to mention a couple of bottles of chilled Bollinger…”

“Are you going to get dressed?”

“Are you going to keep pretending you didn’t enjoy last night as much as I did?  I especially enjoyed the way you —“

Kris stomped out of the tent without so much as an angry comeback, which was kind of disappointing as Dillon actually looked forward to those.  She’d gotten quite good at them.   He sighed, threw back the covers and began hunting up his clothes.

Once they’d gotten Chew Mi off their backs, Dillon had found a suitable campsite and set up tents for both of them.  The tents came with their own air-conditioners and firm air mattresses, as comfortable as any feather bed.  They’d spent an agreeable few hours making and eating dinner and then they’d listened to big band music on the satellite radio and Dillon had produced champagne.  He couldn’t say exactly when he and Kris had ended up in his tent but he had no trouble recalling the torrid, passionate hours that followed.

He washed up quickly while continuing to listen to the radio.  He had to admit one thing; Kris was right about the world going to hell.  But if Dillon had it figured right, either they would find Odin’s hideout today or Odin’s people would catch up to them.  If that happened, Dillon would allow himself to be captured and taken straight to Odin’s lair, saving time and effort.  He wasn’t sure what he was going to do after that, but he was confident that he would think of something.

He dressed, picked up his Desert Eagle, checked to make sure it had a full clip and shoved it in his shoulder holster.  Then he stepped out of the tent, whistling ‘Anything Goes’.

A dozen gun barrels were thrust in his face and all around him he heard nothing but the ratcheting of automatic weapons and handguns.  Dillon looked around very slowly.   Armed men surrounded his tent and pointed weapons at him.  Kris struggled in the firm grasp of two more men, her eyes wide and frightened.  A bandana had been jammed in her mouth to prevent her from shouting a warning.  A short, muscular man dressed in fatigues stepped forward.  He looked Dillon up and down with hate filled eyes.  “So you’re the great Dillon that’s got even Odin shaking.  You don’t look like much to me.”

Dillon smiled politely as he replied, “You most certainly have me confused with somebody who gives a damn about your opinion.  You must be Paul Gynt.  And that’s—” Dillon jerked his head in the direction of the taller man, who stood just a few steps behind Paul. “-your brother Donovan.  The smart Gynt brother.”

Donovan spoke in a somber, even tone.  “Watch yourself, Paul.  That’s one of his favorite tactics.  He likes to insult and cause his opponents to lose their temper.  Don’t let him bait you.”

Paul laughed explosively.  “I’m tired of everybody making such a big deal about this one.  It wasn’t much to capture him, was it?  Not when he and that blue-eyed slut over there were raising such a ruckus doing the horizontal bop.”

Dillon’s copper eyes slowly began to darken to molten gold.  “No reason to be vulgar, Paul.  The lady doesn’t deserve to hear that.  Especially not from you.”

Paul Gynt laughed again.  “Lady?  Her?  Any slut that would willingly let a nigger give it to her right up the old-“

Dillon’s head whipped forward, quick as a striking snake and his strong teeth crunched down on Paul Gynt’s nose.  Blood spurted as Gynt screamed in a high-pitched womanish squeal; “MY NODE!”

Dillon was seized and yanked off Paul Gynt.  There was something in Dillon’s teeth and he spat it out; it hit Paul in the chest and thumped to the ground.  It was Paul’s nose.  There was only a gushing hole in his face where it had once resided.  Paul screamed incoherently as blood squirted from between his fingers.  Dillon’s laughed wildly as he yelled: “It’s always funny until somebody loses a nose, ain’t it, Paul?”

Donovan Gynt’s eyes were slits of cold anger as he lifted a hand and fully a half dozen men piled on Dillon, slammed the butts of their automatic rifles into his face, sides, chest and back and threw in lusty kicks with their steel toed boots.

Kris could only avert her gaze from the savage beating.


***


Dillon slowly came back to consciousness with his head in Kris’s lap.  His entire body was one throbbing ache and it felt as if there hadn’t been one square inch that had been left out.  Kris smiled down at him and kissed his forehead.  “Oh, Thank God!  I was afraid you were never going to wake up!”

Dillon painfully sat up on the cot.  They were inside his tent.  He could hear men shouting orders outside, the sounds of vehicles being started up.  “How long have I been out?”

“About an hour.  Paul tried to come inside and shoot you twice.  But his brother has four men outside to make sure that nothing happens to you until they contact Odin and report to him.”

Dillon stood up and started a series of exercises that would let him know exactly how much damage had been done to his body.  He asked, “And did they?”

Kris nodded excitedly.  “From what I could hear, Odin wants you brought to him.  Paul is frothing with rage.  He spoke to Odin himself over the radio and tried to convince Odin that you should be killed on the spot.  He’s walking around with bandages covering half his face and his nose packed in a Thermos of ice.  He thinks it can be put back on.”

Dillon snorted in derision.  “Fat chance of that.  He’ll have to pay for a new nose.  That’s assuming of course he gets away from me alive, and that’s something I don’t think is gonna happen.”

Kris smiled weakly.  “You don’t have to be brave for me.  I know this is pretty much the end of the line.  Once we’re taken to Odin, we’re sure to be killed.”

Dillon sat back down next to her on the cot.  “Hey, now…nobody on my team goes into a mission contemplating failure, okay?  We’re still alive, aren’t we?  We’ve beaten everybody Odin’s thrown at us, haven’t we?  So what’s this talk then?”  He tenderly kissed her on the lips.  “I wouldn’t have brought you this far if I didn’t have a plan to get us out.  Now, put on your game face and don’t let the bad guys see you sweat.”  Dillon stood up and resumed his exercises.  Except for being sore as hell, there wasn’t any real damage done.  Thanks to his rigorous exercise regimen and his exceedingly active lifestyle, he was pretty much 220 pounds of solid muscle. 
                                                                                                        
The flap of the tent was pulled aside and the lanky form of Donovan Gynt entered.  He eyed Dillon with his glowering, mournful eyes.  “You can thank your lucky stars that Odin wants to see you.  Otherwise my brother would be having his way with you.  And I’d be helping.”

“You tell your brother he insults this lady again and I’ll bite his whole head clean off.  He wants to pick a fight, fine.  Pick it with me.”  Dillon kept on exercising as he spoke.  “And what does Odin want to see me about?  Does he think I’m going to make restitution for the damage I’ve done to his organization?”

Donovan Gynt said, “The Order of The Black Sun is larger than Odin, even though he was one of its architects.  I’m sure there is a good reason for keeping you alive.  But I’m giving you fair warning right now: you want the woman left alone, fine.  Then you leave my brother alone.  You’ve ruined his face for an insult that children in a playground would have laughed off.  You say another word to him or even look at him wrong and I’ll kill you myself and suffer Odin’s displeasure gladly.”

Dillon stopped his exercising and sized up Donovan Gynt carefully.  This was not only the smarter Gynt brother.  He was also the truly dangerous one.  “You’ll have no more trouble from me, Gynt.  I know when I’m beaten.”

Donovan laughed sharply.  “You mean you know when to bide your time and wait for an opportunity to turn the odds in your favor.  We move out in fifteen minutes.  You’ll be placed aboard one of my trucks with a guard.”

“What about my Land Rover?  My equipment?”  Dillon demanded.  Donovan only looked at him as if he were a total idiot and left the tent.

Kris asked, “Just what was that about?”

“Have you forgotten Eli?  He’s my cavalry, remember?  If I could get to the Land Rover, I could send a signal for him to come in and get us.  Damn!”

Kris walked over to the tent flap and opened it just enough to peek out.  “I can see the Land Rover.  It’s about 90 feet straight ahead.”

Dillon was peering over her shoulder.  “Might as well be 90 miles.  There’s nothing but armed men between The Land Rover and us.  The second I stick my head outta here, I’ll---say, what the hell are you doing?”

Kris was rapidly peeling out of her clothes.  “Soon as I pop out and start my act, you make a run for the Land Rover and make it count.”

Dillon could only gawp in surprise as Kris slipped out of her bra and panties.  She had only left her boots on and was otherwise naked as Godiva the day she said “gee, it’s a lovely day to go horseback riding”. Kris took a deep breath and said, “You ready?”

“Me?  Are you ready?  I’m not the one who’s going out there bucky-tail nekkid in front of an army of horny mercenaries.”

“Just be sure I’m not doing this for nothing,” Kris muttered, and then she burst from the tent and running flat out, her mane of golden hair streaming behind her as she bolted right through the camp.  The men Gynt had hired were all seasoned mercenaries, true.  Professional soldiers every last one of them, battle-honed and hardened in a hundred wars in the wild parts of the world.  But they were still men, and when men see a naked woman running, especially one with such splendid assets as Kris possessed, they stopped what they were doing and looked.

Dillon charged out of the tent, bowling over the four guards and sprinting toward his Land Rover.  Despite his height and weight, he was a remarkably fast runner, and he  covered fully half the distance to the vehicle before a hue and cry was raised.  He could hear Paul Gynt’s shrill screams over all, exhorting the men to kill him.  He jinked right and then left as bullets chewed up the ground around him and hummed past his ears.  He reached the door of the Land Rover, yanked it open and jumped inside, slamming it shut and rolling up the window.  He then did the same to the door on the driver’s side and by then, they were on him.

A dozen mercenaries ringed the vehicle, their weapons chattering as they pounded bullets into the armored sides of the Land Rover.  Dillon ignored the hellish din and felt up under the dashboard, flipping what he called ‘the panic button’.  This would send a signal to Eli that he could home in on using the GPS tracking console in his plane.  Now if only Eli got the signal before they busted open the Land Rover and dragged him out.  Dillon looked out the windshield and saw that, not only did they have Kris, but also Paul Gynt was running up to the Land Rover, grinning broadly despite the thick white X of bandages on his face, a rocket launcher in his hands.


***


Eli was shaving with his Bowie knife when one of his men jogged over to him.  “Eli?  There’s a signal coming in from Dillon.”

Eli nodded.  “I want a solid fix on his position.  And get the plane prepped.  Soon as you can tell me where my boy is, we’re gonna go get him.”

“Sure thing, Eli.”


***


Paul Gynt laughed hysterically as he aimed the rocket launcher at the front of The Land Rover and pulled the trigger.  So intent on killing Dillon was he that he ignored the fact that a dozen of his men stood around the Land Rover.  They dived for cover as the rocket sped from the launcher and hit the Land Rover squarely between the headlights, kicking the vehicle backwards and up into the air.  It was a tribute to the armoring job Dillon had done to the vehicle that it did not blow up, but was flipped over and landed with a tremendous crunch of shattering glass and crumpling metal on its side.  That was about all. 

Well, not quite all.  Paul Gynt threw the empty rocket launcher away and was fumbling with another one hanging on a strap around his neck, trying to release the safeties so he could send another rocket into the vehicle.  He wanted to see Dillon burn.  He wanted to hear Dillon shrieking in hellish agony as flames consumed his flesh.  Paul’s thirst for Dillon’s death only hastened his own as he was shaking so from excitement that he dropped the rocket launcher.  It hit the ground and activated, and the rocket shot from the launcher with a whoosh, hitting Paul right square in the middle of the X on his face.  Paul Gynt was totally obliterated, pieces of him raining all over the camp and the mercenaries.

Donovan Gynt watched all of this in stunned astonishment.  If someone had just described the events he himself had witnessed to him second hand, he wouldn’t have believed such a dark comedy capable of happening.  The naked girl sprinting through the camp.  Dillon getting to his Land Rover to do God knows what.  And now his brother had somehow blown himself up with a rocket meant for Dillon.

Some of the mercenaries pulled Dillon from the wreckage of the Land Rover and dragged him over to where Donovan stood, dumping him at his feet.  Dillon was unconscious.  Donovan Gynt ached to put a bullet in this man’s brain for causing his brother’s death.  But there was Odin’s order to think of.  And certainly, Dillon did not deserve the quick death of a single bullet.  No, his dying would take many, many days, and Donovan certainly wanted to be there to enjoy every single drop of agony he could wring out of him.

“Tie him up and put him in a truck.  And the girl as well.  Let’s get out of here.  We’ve wasted too much time as it is.”

One of the mercenaries jerked a thumb at the Land Rover.   “What about that?”

“What about it?”

“We oughta blow it up.  Maybe he tripped a homing beacon or somethin’ in it.  We shouldn’t take any chances.”

Donovan was still looking at the smoking spot where his brother had died.  “Take care of it, then, since you’re so worried about it.”


***


 “What do you mean, the signal’s stopped?”  Eli entered the cockpit of the cargo plane, dropping into the pilot’s seat and beginning his pre-flight checks.

“I was locking in on the signal as you ordered and all of a sudden it just . . . stopped.”

“Would you say that it was manually cut off or forcibly interrupted?”

“I’d have to say it was interrupted.  The break was just too abrupt for it to be anything else.  But I can put you within five miles of where the signal originated.”

“That’s all I need.  Knowing Dillon, we’ll see explosions or something.  Seal this sucker up and let’s grab some sky.”


***


This time when Dillon regained consciousness, he was in the back of a truck.  Two men sat with their backs to the driver’s cab, their weapons pointing at him.  He was restrained with two pairs of handcuffs and his ankles tightly bound.  Kris sat across from him, similarly bound and once again fully dressed.  The truck bounced along what could only be referred to as a road by the wildest stretch of the imagination.  He smiled at Kris.  “I see you found your clothes.”

She shrugged.  “You should have heard what Donovan said to me.  You know, it’s strange that for someone who’s so indifferent to human life, he’s awfully Puritan in his attitudes about nudity.”

Dillon struggled to a sitting position as he replied.  “You’d be surprised how many psychopaths are like that.  Where the hell are we going in such a hurry?”

“There’s some sort of timetable they’re supposed to be sticking to.  We upset it with our last stunt.  Oh, by the way, Paul Gynt’s dead.”

Dillon blinked.  “Can’t say I’m sorry to hear that.  How’d it happen?”

Despite their danger and the constant threat of sudden death at any moment, Kris had to giggle as she said; “After he hit you with the first rocket, he tried to fire another.  The butterfingered fool dropped the rocket launcher and killed himself with it.  The rocket hit him right….” Kris burst out into a gale of laughter.  “…it hit him right where his nose used to be!”

Even the two guards were grinning broadly and trying to smother their own laughter.  Dillon looked from the guards to Kris and back to the guards and then back to Kris.  “The jackass blew himself up with a rocket?  Right in the face?”  He shook his head sorrowfully.  “And I missed it.  I’d have paid good money to see that.”

Kris was shaking all over from laughing.  “It was something to see, let me tell you.”

“But Donovan’s still set on taking me to Odin, I see.”

Kris’s laughter subsided as she nodded agreement.  “He must truly fear Odin.”

“I don’t think it’s only that.  I’ve pretty much wiped out Odin’s crew…. Lady Thelma, The Whale, Paul Gynt, Chew Mi…. Donovan’s in a good position if he can stay alive…. he’s the only one left to reap the rewards.  Don’t fool yourself for a minute and think he hasn’t thought of that.”

The truck was slowing down, coming to a stop.  Kris shook her head as if to dislodge a nagging thought.  “But what could Odin offer him?  He’s already extraordinarily rich.  How much more wealth can one man aspire to have?”

“None,” Donovan Gynt said from the rear of the truck.  He was unlatching the rear tailgate so that Dillon and Kris could be hauled out.  “I’m not doing this for money.  I’m doing this to right a grievous wrong done to my father.  He sacrificed his life for his work and that work was refused, ignored.  Locked away.  And he was told that he could never see it come to fruition.”

Dillon’s feet were untied but the handcuffs were left on.  “So Odin is your father, Leopold Gynt?  He’s still alive after all this time and he still wants revenge.  And like the good little son you are, you’re helping Daddy destroy the world.”

Donovan smiled thinly.  “There’s so much you don’t understand, Dillon. But you will.  You will.”  He gestured to the guards.  “Bring them!”

The trucks had stopped next to a concrete path that looked as if it had been put down recently.  It was comfortably wide and most of the jungle vegetation on both sides had been cut down, stripped in order to provide a clear view on both sides of the trail.  It would be virtually impossible to sneak up on anybody navigating the trail.  Dillon was much more interested in what was up ahead in the clearing.  A group of sixteen buildings, none of them over two stories and painted dull gray and green to blend in with the trees that towered over them.  And behind the buildings, a gigantic black dome that appeared to be made of some kind of ceramic material, from what Dillon could tell from that distance.  He and Kris were led into the clearing, and he saw that some of the buildings were barracks for the mercenaries, housing for what appeared to be technical support, a radio shack (the location of which he committed to memory) a kitchen, an infirmary, an armory.  It was a regular little military outpost Odin had for himself here.

Donovan Gynt noted Dillon’s interest.  “Don’t miss a trick, do you?  I’ll let you in on a little secret: you won’t live to profit from what you’re seeing here.”

Dillon grinned wickedly.  “Don’t make the same mistake your brother did, Donny.”

Donovan Gynt said nothing and continued to lead the way inside the dome.  Once there, most of the mercenaries stayed outside and Donovan motioned for Dillon and Kris to come along.  They walked up a ramp that slanted upwards until coming to an elevator.  The guards stuck their guns right into Dillon’s midsection.

“He makes one wrong move.  Just one.”  Donovan said.  “Kill him.”

Dillon did not make a wrong move.  He had no intention of doing anything until he came face to face with Odin.


***


Eli lowered the binoculars and turned to his co-pilot.  “I got smoke.  Something’s burning up ahead.”

The co-pilot nodded as he took the binoculars.  “Matches the location fix Harry gave us.  You think Dillon’s in trouble?”

Eli sighed as he pushed the yoke forward, dropping in altitude to take a closer look.  “As long as I’ve known that guy, he’s never not been in trouble.”


***


The elevator stopped and the doors opened.  Dillon and Kris were shoved forward into what could only be described as a combination control center and throne room.  Technicians who were bent intently over the readouts on their screens manned curving banks of consoles.  While many of them were spouting out scientific data, others were tuned to the various news services of the world, monitoring events as they happened, gauging the world’s reactions to Odin’s attack.

Past the curving consoles was a dais of some sixteen steps high, upon which a massive chair of metal rested.  Various controls were set into the arms of the chair, and the big hands of the man who sat in it idly manipulated them.  He dressed in a simple one-piece steel blue jumpsuit.  His face lined with age, and his deep set watery gray eyes blazed with intelligence and purpose.  His lips barely moved as his deep and commanding voice said: “Dillon, here at last . . . and I . . . I am Odin.  I believe that you and I have business between us to settle.”

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