Monday, May 21, 2012

Dillon And The Pirates of Xonira: Chapter Three

It's a good day for me and so it's a good day for you as well.  "How so?" you may well ask.  Well, I'm a'gonna tell you.  First off, you get to read a wonderful review of FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON written by none other than Captain Ron Fortier of Airship 27 and if you don't have his Pulp Fiction Reviews blog as part of your regular reading diet then you're missing out Big Time, bucko.

Next, I suggest you check out the first two chapters of DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA before diving into Chapter Three.  This will most likely be the last preview chapter as the book is thisclose to me typing "The End" so savor and enjoy!

Chapter One

Chapter Two



            Dillon liked to take vacations in between his jobs.  However, the sort of vacations that he took were very unlike the vacations most people indulged in.  There was a good reason for that.  Dillon’s upbringing had been…unusual to say the least.  There were a lot of things he had missed out on as a child, a teenager and a young adult.  And much he was curious about.  That curiosity led him to take a vacation two years ago where he worked for a month in the kitchen at Tin’s Sammich Emporium, the most famous sandwich restaurant in South Carolina.  One year he’d worked for a summer as a roofer in Mexico.  This summer he was considering taking classes at the prestigious Bethune-Cookman University.

Some of Dillon’s friends thought it odd that he would consider activities such as these ‘vacations’.  But then again even his closest friends didn’t know the circumstances under which and how he was raised.  Most of his early life had been spent in places very far removed from anything they were familiar with.  In fact, Dillon had had to relearn a whole lot of things when he decided to leave The Eternal City of Shamballah for good and rejoin the world.  And he wasn’t through learning.

Besides, he enjoyed the break from his rough-and-tumble life occasionally.  He genuinely had fun just being a regular Joe Citizen if only a few weeks or months at a time.  It brought him a perspective that he felt helped connect him to the world and the people in it.  Dillon had seen all too often what happened to men with skills comparable to his when they started thinking that they were superior to other people.

Dillon was staying at a beach house just off of highway A1A, one of the dozen safe houses he owned around the world.  This one had two stories, with a wonderful view of the ocean.  He hadn’t been here for a few years.  Matter of fact he hadn’t been back in Florida for a number of years following an incident where a rather heated dispute between Dillon, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Miami Police Department and the Triad known as The Sons Of The Golden Chrysanthemum led to a 747-8 getting blown up at Miami International Airport.  But he wasn’t worried.  He’d quietly entered Florida by highway and a simple disguise: he’d driven a raggedy RV he bought with cash in Pennsylvania that certainly didn’t attract any attention.  Every other vehicle on the road these days was an RV it seemed.  But he’d taken the added precaution of adding a fake salt and pepper beard and a battered Greek fisherman’s cap that made him look for all the world like a guy who’d maybe just been recently widowed or divorced and just bumming it up and down the road until his cash ran out and he had to go back to his life.

Once in Daytona Beach he contacted the professional property management outfit he used and informed them that Mr. Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. of MacFhearghius Diversified would be using his house for a month and would they please see to it that the house was cleaned and aired out?  Thank you so much and Mr. Johnson’s gratitude would be sizeable.

Dillon moved in and just spent a week doing nothing.  He would get up early, take a four or five mile run up the beach and then walk back to the house, just slow poking, stopping to check out whatever caught his eye.  In the evening he went out for dinner, maybe took in a show or hung out in one of the clubs.  He did whatever his mood dictated.  Given his usual regiment he very rarely could just indulge himself and go wherever the wind took him.

He’d found this great shop that had Blu-Rays really cheap.  Dillon stood with at least twenty of them in a small red basket.  Most of them animated movies or box sets of anime series.  He was a major animation fan, never having seen a cartoon until he was a young adult.  He could sit and watch cartoons for hours.  He didn’t have any Blu-Rays at the Florida house and this was a great way to start a video library down here.  He hummed pleasantly as he browsed through the racks.
“Shopping for your kids?”

Dillon turned slightly to his left and found himself looking into a pair of the most enticing almond shaped brown eyes it had been his pleasure to look into for quite some time.  There was more to go along with the eyes.  Silky, curly, sand-colored, shoulder length hair.  A wonderfully athletic build.  Lovely mocha skin.  Full lips that smiled in an enticingly delightful manner.

“I beg your pardon?”  Dillon asked.  Not that he hadn’t heard her.  He liked to brag he had 20/20 hearing.  He just wanted to hear her say it again while he came up with something witty and clever. 

The mocha beauty pointed at his basket.  “The only guys that come in here and buy that many cartoons have kids.  Boys?  Girls?  One of each?”

“None actually.  They’re for me.”

The mocha beauty frowned.  Not that it took away from how fine she was in the slightest, Dillon thought.  Not many women could look that good frowning.   Of course, the mini jean skirt, red Sabrina heel pumps and the red T-shirt one size smaller than it should have been helped considerably as well.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those men who suffer from Peter Pan syndrome.  I bet your most prized possession is your PlayStation 4 and your Sentinels action figures.”

“No.  I’ve got a mint condition 1959 Bethea Roadmaster and a Renaissance chateau on top of a mesa in Colorado I rank a tad higher than them.”

“Oh.  I see.”  Her eyes opened wider as the smile thankfully returned.  “Sorry.  Guess I was quick to judge.  Comes from dating too many of the wrong kind of men.”

“How do you know I’m not the wrong kind of man?  I could be lying, y’know.”

She gave Dillon an appraising look and shook her head slowly.  “No...I don’t think so.  Not that I don’t think you can lie and do it very well if you have to.  Nobody with a grin like yours can be fully trusted.  But I don’t think you’re lying to me right now.  Maybe later after you get to know me better.”

“Ah.  You’re assuming that we will get to know each other better, then?”

“Well, I still am curious as to why you’re buying all those cartoons.”

“Maybe I can explain it over a drink.  Do you work here?”

“No, but near here.  I’m on my break.  Why not meet me back here out in front at four, okay?”

“Knocking off from work so early?  You’ve got an understanding boss.”

“One thing about Florida: we know how to take it easy down here.”  She held out her hand.  “My name’s Toi Lahayne, by the way.”

“I’m Ray Johnson.”

Toi cocked her head to the side in amusement.  “A pleasure to meet you Mr. Johnson.”

“Ah, you don’t have to call me Johnson.  You can call me Ray.”

Toi cocked her head to the side and looked curiously at him.  “Nah…you don’t look like a Ray.”

“You’d be surprised how many times I hear that.  Excuse me while I get this rung up so I can go home and make myself impressively handsome for our date.”

            Dillon rolled over in the four poster king sized bed and looked at the sleeping back of Toi Lahayne for a few seconds before impulsively leaning over and kissing her between the shoulder blades.  Toi murmured something endearing and continued sleeping.  Dillon climbed out of bed without disturbing her.  He found a pair of shorts, put them on and then headed to the kitchen for food.

          Beautiful early morning sunshine poured into the kitchen through the French doors, adding to Dillon’s feelings of exhilaration.  There were few things he loved more than waking up to a brilliant sunrise such as this.  And a wonderful evening of dining and dancing such as the one he had enjoyed with Toi was added spice indeed.

Toi continued to feign a deep sleep until she heard Dillon moving around in the kitchen.  She reached under the bed and withdrew her cell phone.  She spent the next minute text messaging.  She wasn’t very happy with the responses she was getting but then again she was getting paid an outrageous amount of money for her job so she really couldn’t complain.

She climbed out of the bed, walked over to the closet and opened it. Her clothes were hanging there nice and neat.  But she picked one of Dillon’s T-shirts and slipped it over her body.  She kept the cell phone in her left hand as she walked into the beautiful contemporary kitchen with its gleaming white cabinets and rainforest green marble countertops.    She stood there for just a minute taking in the sight of his body.  His skin was two or three shades darker than hers, wonderfully sleek muscles moving under the skin with the smoothness of a gymnast or a swimmer. 

Dillon looked up and smiled warmly at her.  “Hey.  I’m making a five star breakfast for you, baby. At least if you live in China.  Rice with dried minced pork.”

Toi grinned back.  “ Sounds a little heavy for breakfast but it also sounds delicious.”  Her eyes wandered over to the laptop computer that rested on the square glass kitchen table.  “Working?”

Dillon moved between the refrigerator and the stove.  “I have a job that demands I keep up with what’s going on.” 

“Wish I had a job that fascinating.  What is it exactly that you do?”

“It’s so boring that there’s really no point in telling you unless you want me to talk about augmented implementations of integrated engineering principals.”

“Noooooo…I don’t think so.”  Toi smiled and sat down at the laptop.  The screensaver was on, a picture of African elephants.

“I’d really prefer it if you don’t touch that,” Dillon cautioned.  He continued moving between the counter and the refrigerator but he kept an eye on Toi.

“Don’t worry.  I’m kinda touchy about people messing about with my computer, too.”

Dillon smiled his thanks and headed back for the bedroom.  “Let me throw on a shirt and some shoes.  I’ve got to go out to my car for a bit.  Be right back.”  He left the kitchen and walked to the bedroom.  What a stroke of good luck for her.  She had been wondering how she was going to get him out of the kitchen long enough for her to do her work. Toi figured she had about a minute which would be more than enough.  She quickly brought up her phone and with a thumb flipped out a USB plug.  This she inserted directly into Dillon’s laptop, her intention to download as much as she could before he-

The screen flashed red and the laptop computer shut down at the same time it emitted a loud and continuous beeping.  Toi gasped and looked up to see Dillon standing in the doorway of the kitchen with his Jericho pointed at her.

“Damn.  I really liked you, Toi.  Take out your phone and close my computer.”

Toi immediately did as she was told.  “Dillon, it’s not what
you think.”

“It never is.”  Dillon moved into the kitchen.  “Place both of
your hands palms down on the table.  Do not take your hands off thetable.  I will not give you another warning.”

Toi put her hands palms down on the kitchen table.  “My people have a file on you. I believe what you say.”

Dillon moved in close enough just to pick up the laptop and transfer it to the countertop behind him.  Toi’s phone joined it.

“Dillon, if you’ll just give me two minutes-“

“No talking.”  Dillon picked up his cell phone which was also on the countertop and pressed the speed dial.  The number rang two times and then a warm, rich voice that would have given Barry White in his prime a run for his money said; “Hyatt residence.”

“Wyatt, its Dillon.”

“Hey!  What’s shaking, baby?  Who’s trying to kill you today?”  Wyatt Hyatt’s infectious laugh boomed in Dillon’s ear.  Wyatt Hyatt looked more like a NFL defensive lineman than a technological genius.  But he was.  Behind his round baby face, neatly trimmed beard and square glasses was a brain that commanded six figure consulting fees.  When he decided to work, that is.  And thanks to his numerous patents in the fields of quantum computing theory and computer neuroscience he didn’t have to very often.  He provided Dillon with much of his technical backup.  And when things really got boring for him he  joined Dillon out in the field.

“Need a favor, Wyatt.  I’m holding a gun on this chick.  I need her ID’ed quick fast.”

“What’d she do?  Don’t tell me she was less than dazzled by the legendary Dillon charm.”

“She tried to download information from my laptop onto a flash drive.”

Wyatt laughed again.  As well he should.  He had built that laptop for Dillon himself and he would have staked his right arm on it being unhackable by any means.  “She probably just wanted to scope out your email and see how many other chicks you got hanging on a string.”

“Maybe so.  But I’d like to be sure, okay?”

           “I hear you, baby.  Point your phone at her and gimme a picture.”

Dillon did as Wyatt asked, taking Toi’s picture and immediately forwarding it to Wyatt’s location which was his lavish combination home/office/workshop in Milledgeville, Georgia.

“It’ll take a minute or so.  When you going to swing by Georgia and hang out?”

“I was planning on stopping by in another couple of weeks to see you.  I’m in Daytona Beach right now.”

“I’m hurt.  You went clean through Georgia and didn’t stop to holla at your boy?”  Wyatt tsked-tsked.  “You wasn’t raised right a’tall…okay…your intel is coming through.  The young lady’s name is Toi Lahayne.  Impressive resume she got here.”

“Give me the highlights and forward the rest.”

“After serving two tours of duty in the United States Army, your Miss Lahayne was recruited, trained and worked for Blackspear Consultants for ten years as an executive contractor.”

“Who does she work for now?”

“Doesn’t say.  She left Blackspear two years ago.  Nothing I’ve got here says she’s been working for anybody since then.  Maybe she’s gone freelance.”

“Maybe, but I don’t buy it.  Keep digging and anything else you think I need to know, you call me, hear?”

“I can be down there in a couple of hours, Dillon.  You may need somebody to watch your back.”

“You’re more useful to me right where you are, Wyatt.  Besides, I don’t even know what this is about and I rather not have you getting mixed up in it just yet until I do.”

“Okay.  But if I don’t hear from you I’m rounding up the gang and we’re coming to get you.  You feel me?”

“Call you back in an hour.  That’s a promise. Thanks, Wyatt.”  Dillon closed up his phone and made himself comfortable.  “So your name actually is Toi Lahayne.  Believe it or not, I’m glad.  I’d hate to think you’d made up a sweet name like that just to impress me.”

“If you’d just let me make one phone call-“

“To who?  Somebody at Blackspear?  What could one of the world’s top private military corporations want with me?  I’ve never had dealings with Blackspear before.”

“I don’t work for Blackspear anymore.”

“They fire you?”

“I left on good terms with them.  I could walk back in tomorrow and get my old job back if I wanted it.”  Toi was beginning to get angry.  “Look, you’re supposed to be a smart guy.  Doesn’t it seem funny to a smart guy like you that if I was here to kill you I didn’t do it while you were sleeping after we-“

            “That’s the only reason your brains are still inside that cute head of yours.”  Dillon’s voice softened slightly.  “I’d really like to believe you’re on the level.  But the circumstances of the life I’ve chosen sometimes force me to act in a manner less than gentlemanly.”

“Just one phone call.  You’ve got my word.  One phone call and this can all be explained.”

            “We’ll use my phone.  What’s the number?”

Toi gave it to him and Dillon tapped it in.  He turned on the speakerphone mode and placed the phone on the table between them.  It rang three times and then a cultured English voice said; “Herman Jeffries.  How may I help you?”

Dillon indicated with a head motion that Toi should answer.  “It’s Toi, Herman.”

“Toi!  Nice to hear from you, my darling!  Where are you calling from?  I don’t recognize this number.”

“I’m in a bit of a mess here, Herman.  I’m calling you on Dillon’s phone.”

“Oh, my.  That does sound serious.  I take it the gentleman is in the room with you?”

“About five feet away with a gun pointed at my head.”

“I see.  Mr. Dillon, my name is Herman Jeffries and I hope we can come to some arraignment that will not result in unpleasantness.”

 “That depends on why you sicced your girl here on me, Mr. Jeffries.  Far as I know we’ve never met.”

“No, we haven’t, sir.   But we have mutual interests.  I’m a member of an organization called The Braithwaite Group and we’ve got some information concerning Xonira that is quite disturbing.  Part of our investigation necessitated trying to ascertain if you have had any recent contact with anyone in Xonira.”

“How disturbing?”

“I’d rather not go into it over the phone, sir.”

“Mr. Jeffries, I assure you that my phone is secure.  I suggest you tell me what this is all about and do it now.” 

“I will not.  I’ve stated my position and I don’t intend to change it.  Now, I propose that you bring Toi with you to our offices here in Daytona Beach and we’ll have a bite to eat and discuss this matter like civilized people.”

“Why can’t you come here?”

Jeffries sighed theatrically.  “It would be easier to convince you of my goodwill here.  What if I gave you my word that there will be no trickery involved?”

“There better not be.  Okay, Jeffries.  I’ll come.”

“Excellent.  Shall we say in two hours, then?”

            “I can hardly wait.”  Dillon broke the connection and uncocked the gun.  “Okay, go ahead, get showered and dressed.  Then you can take me to your boss and I can find out what all this is about.”

“Look, Dillon…what happened earlier…that wasn’t just part of the job.”

“Whatever.  It hardly matters.  You had a job to do and I respect that.  I don’t have to respect the way you did it.  Now go get dressed.  And don’t feel you have to make conversation while you’re doing it.”