Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Chapter One is here.

Chapter Two is here.

Chapter Three is here.

Chapter Four is here.

Chapter Five is here.


Chapter Six is here.

Chapter Seven by GeekMan


“Listen everyone, I’m really grateful for your help in getting me out of Burrows’ grasp, but what is all this sitting around on our bums in this bar doing to help my daughter? He only gave me an hour to decided and that was over four hours ago! My daughter, your bloody sister Danny, is still out there under that psychopaths control and we’re busy sitting here having a god damned fireside chat! He threatened to… to… do things to her and let sick, demented sexual perverts watch! We’ve got to do something before that happens, dammit, and sitting here talking about how stupid I was for getting involved isn’t helping. So tell me, what the fuck are you so called ‘experts’ going to do to help me? And you can stop kicking me now, you under aged little tart, because I’m tired of taking orders from you.”

Diana put on her hurt little girl face and sulked as John ran out of both breath and words. He was too angry, tired and confused about this whole situation to care about her hurt feelings. For a moment, there was a tense silence in which John realized that no one was speaking and they were all looking at him in surprise.

Well, he thought, didn’t think I had it in me, did they? Bully for them then, I didn’t know either.

“Mr. Maclaren, you need to calm down. We have the situation well in hand and bringing unwanted attention to ourselves now will only complicate things.”

John realized with a start that during his little speech he had stood up and raised his voice to such a level that some of the other patrons of the bar had turned to look at the group. Sitting down quickly, he took another sip of his drink and glared hard at the man who had spoken. It was the older man who had come in with Danny, the one Diana had introduced as Carlos. He looked like a dangerous sort and under any other circumstances John was sure he would have done everything in his power to avoid him. Right now however, John was so angry he didn’t care who he might piss off. And anyway, however Daniel was mixed up in all this, John was willing to bet that this Carlos fellow had dragged him into it.

“I will not calm down, you old geezer. Not until you tell me what my son is doing here and how you got him mixed up in this mess.”

“Dad! You don’t know what you’re saying. Just calm down…”

“I’d listen to your son if I were you, mister.”

“Fuck you, you Yankee fuck.”

Normally, the look Carlos shot at John would have caused him to check his body for holes, but during his ordeal that evening something in John had changed. Much to his surprise he found that he wasn’t even afraid of Burrows anymore, let alone this reject from an elderly Rambo reunion. All he wanted to do was save his daughter and then run away and hide until this whole stupid mess blew over. It wasn’t his fight and it wasn’t his problem. If these crazy people wanted to talk conspiracy theories and fight their own private war with some egomaniacal psychopath with dreams of raising his own private harem, then let them all go to hell. But he certainly wasn’t going to help them, and there was no way in the world that he was going to let them drag his family into it.

“Mister, you’re lucky that Daniel’s your son or else you’d be eating those words. Without your teeth.”

“Tell me why he’s here old timer, or I’ll break your hip.”

“Ask him you Scottish turd. This is his show, it’s his baby. I’m only here to offer advice, he’s the one in charge of the whole operation.”

“Do you think I’m daft man, or just stupid? It’s obvious to everyone in here that you’re in charge. And if you think I’m going to believe that anyone would ever leave something as dangerous as this little operation of yours in the hands of a 20 year old boy, then you’re crazier than Burrows is!”

The sudden look of shocked disbelief that crossed Carlos’ face coupled with the sharp intake of breath coming from his son, told John all he needed to know.

“You didn’t know, did you? None of you knew? Fucking Christ, I can’t believe this. I’m supposed to trust you, all of you, to save my daughter when you didn’t even know that the man who you say is in charge is barely old enough to drink in America? What kind of Mickey Mouse, ragtag group of idiots are you?”

Marcus and Elija expressed their surprise by giving each other a quick look and then nodding as if they had suspected it all along and had just gotten confirmation. Then they leaned back in their chairs as if they were settling in to watch their favorite show on the telly and sipped their beers. Diana let out a surprised little squeak and sat up straight in her chair staring directly across the table at Carlos. With her eye’s open wide and her mouth held in a tight-lipped, dangerous looking smile, she leaned forward slowly towards Carlos. She appeared just like a giant, hungry cat waiting at a mouse hole for a tasty treat to make an appearance.

“Well Carlos?” She said in a breathy whisper. “Is it true? Are all our plans hinging on the abilities of a person you didn’t even know was a child?”

Carlos however, wasn’t even listening. He was lost in his own mind, his dreams of retirement and family life melting away as the truth of John’s words hit him with the force of a sledgehammer. How could Daniel, the man who had saved his life more than once in the last two years, be only 20 years old? When they had first met and Daniel had said his age was 29, Carlos hadn’t even blinked. And although he had done some background checks to make sure he wasn’t a mole, not one of those inquiries had asked for confirmation of Daniel’s real age. It was an accept fact in their line of work that it was sometimes necessary to change your age, name and country of origin to remain undercover or inconspicuous, so background checks usually just confirmed that you weren’t working for the opposition and that you had the skills necessary to get the job done. Daniel had passed the computer background checks with flying colors and had never once, at any time on any mission, ever let on that he was anything but a highly trained and very experienced member of the team. Daniel and he had always joked about their age, and Daniel did always call him pops, but Carlos had never really thought about his friends’ real age before.

But now it was the only thing he could think of and his mind was racing in circles around the number. 20 years old? My god, that meant that Daniel was only 18, or even 17, when they first met! So young! How was he going to take over the business? How could Carlos even think of retiring and leaving everything in his hands? Who would take orders from a kid?

“Carlos? We don’t have time for this. Tell the kid to go home with his dad and let’s get down to business.”

“Shut up, Diana. I’m nobody’s fucking child and unless Carlos says otherwise I’m still in charge of this operation.”

“But you lied to us, Danny-Boy. You lied to him.” Her voice was like silk, the venom behind the words unmistakable. “How will he ever trust you again? How do we know you’re up to a mission of this magnitude? Maybe you should just go home with your daddy here and watch some cartoons…”

“Lady, you’re beginning to piss me off.”

“I don’t care if I piss you off, honey-child. I’ve come too far and taken too many risks to let a kid like you fuck everything up now. I’m telling you and everyone else here that I want Carlos to run the show from this point forward. If you want to stay, you can watch and learn, but stay the hell out of the way of the grownups.”

“Listen you bitch, my age doesn’t matter if I’ve got the skills to get the job done. I’ve done dozens of jobs over the years, with and without Carlos, and no one’s ever questioned my right to be there. I’ve never let Carlos down and I don’t plan on starting now. Especially when it’s my own damn family at stake, so you can take your fucking worthless, teeny-bopper opinions and shove them up your underage ass!”

Marcus and Elija could barely stifle their giggles as Diana let out a gasp of surprise at Daniel’s harsh words. It seemed to John that they were about ready to attack each other right there in the bar and he silently wished his boy luck against the psychopathic little hellcat. As the two of them squared off across the table Carlos suddenly stood up and cleared his throat.

“Both of you shut up.” He said in such a quiet and authoritative tone that everyone at the table found themselves shutting up and listening closely to what he said. “Daniel’s right. His age doesn’t matter. He’s proven himself to me time and again over the years and just because I find out now that he’s younger than I thought doesn’t really change the fact that he does have the skills necessary to get the job done.”

He turned to look at his young friend with a reassuring smile on his face. “Daniel, I’m sorry that I lost it for a minute there, but finding out your real age was a bit of a shock to this old man’s system. Despite what Diana said you haven’t betrayed me, or any of us. I don’t think you’re a child who needs handholding, I think you’re a man who has always done what was necessary to finish a mission and I’d still trust you with my life. As far as I’m concerned, you’re still in charge. Forgive me?”

Daniel felt the anger and tension from a moment before leave his body in a rush, and he slumped down a little in his chair in relief. First the shock of finding out his father was involved in this mess, then realizing his sister was the kidnapped girl they were trying to rescue and finally having Carlos discover his real age before he could tell him himself was all almost too much to bear. Daniel wished he had found a way to tell Carlos sooner, before all this craziness, but when Carlos had told him that he wanted to retire and was letting him handle this whole operation, he had become filled with such happiness and pride that he had decided once again to postpone filling Carlos in on his minor secret. He always knew that one day Carlos would find out, and truth be told he had half believed that the old man already knew but was just pretending to believe that Daniel was the age he claimed to be for Daniel’s sake. Daniel had always assumed that he would be able to tell Carlos himself when the time was right. During some down time between missions maybe or over a beer after a successful one. He certainly never expected to have to confront him in the middle of an operation. Especially not during the Burrows deal.

Daniel was so glad and relieved that Carlos wasn’t cutting him loose that he didn’t know what to say. Not only was he not going to be left behind, but Carlos still had enough faith in his abilities that he was willing to let Daniel keep the lead on the whole Burrows operation. Even after discovering he was far younger than any other member of the team, including Marcus and Elija. Carlos was showing a level of confidence and trust in Daniel’s abilities that even his own father had never shown. The love Daniel felt for Carlos, already at amazingly high, hero-worship levels, surged to new heights.

“Are you sure, pops? I didn’t mean for you to find out this way and I’d understand if…”

“It doesn’t matter, Daniel. It really doesn’t. We’ve been through thick and thin together for the last two years and if I can’t trust you now, then…” Carlos’ voice almost sounded like it had cracked. Nobody, not even Diana, dared to mention it.

“Pops…”

“You’re the man for the job, Daniel, and that’s final.” Carlos suddenly smiled ruefully and looked at Daniel with suspicion. “Just tell me one thing before we drop this subject for good and get back to making some plans.”

“Sure, pops. Anything.”

“How did you fake all those connections with the elite forces? You know, SAS, US Navy, SPETZ?”

Daniel looked a little sheepish as he answered. “When I thought that I wanted some adventure in my life and decided to become a Merc, I hacked a few databases and added my name to the lists of what I thought were the ‘cool’ Special Forces units around the world. As long as I didn’t leave any traces I figured their people wouldn’t be able to tell what was a real and what was mine. So, even if they discovered the break in they wouldn’t find the fake.” He had the decency to blush. “And I figured that by a few days after our first meeting, it wouldn’t matter one way or the other if my records were faked or erased. I’d either be a real merc, or I’d be real dead.”

Carlos seemed to be proud about this new bit of information and smiled as if Daniel were his own child and had just won the school science fair. “Not bad, kid. Not bad at all.”

John watched the whole exchange between his son and Carlos and felt a great sadness well up from deep inside himself. Yes, he had never been the best of fathers, but he did love his kids. He might not have been there for every little thing, and in fact had missed quite a few of the big things too, but that didn’t mean he didn’t care. And now, seeing some stranger receive the admiration and affection he had always thought should be his and his alone, John’s heart was tearing in two.

Danny turned back to the rest of the people at the table and addressed them all, although he did tend to glare more at Diana than anyone else.

“Right, that’s settled then. You all heard Carlos, I’m still in charge. Any objections?”

Diana looked as if she wanted to say something but thankfully, and quite uncharacteristically John thought, she refrained from another outburst. Instead, she leaned back in her chair and kicked John under the table. No one else seemed to notice. Clenching his teeth in pain, John looked at her angry face and resisted the urge to turn her over his knee and give her a good spanking.

“Danny, why didn’t you tell me about all this?”

“Dad, it doesn’t matter anymore. I just couldn’t. Let’s leave it at that.”

“No Danny, I will not leave it at that!” John was beginning to get angry again. “I want to know why my son felt he needed to become a hired gun to get my attention. A god damned mercenary, for fuck’s sake! Did I do something wrong? Are you rebelling against me or something? Couldn’t you have just listened to bad music or dyed your hair like a normal kid?”

“Dad! Will you just shut up already? Why does everything I do have to be about you? It was my choice to do this, not yours. My decision to become a mercenary had nothing to do with you, so do us all a favor and drop the subject, ok?”

The last thing John wanted to do was drop the subject, but he was reminded of the other people sitting at the table when he felt rather than saw Diana’s smile of sadistic pleasure at his predicament. Suddenly, the last thing he wanted to do was let that crazy bitch see him and his son fighting in public.

“Danny. Son, I’m sorry. You’re right, we shouldn’t be arguing now. I guess I’m just a little put out by all the craziness that’s happened to me today. I mean, kidnapping, cloning plots and porno empires! To top it all off I just found out my own son is a professional mercenary straight out of a Hollywood movie!” John let out a nervous laugh. “It’s all a little much to take sober, you know? I just wish I was back at the Port downing a pint and not having a care in the world.”

Daniel smiled at the thought of his father having a beer at his favorite pub, surrounded by all his friends. Especially Megan, he had always liked her. She had never treated him like a kid.

If only things were different dad, he thought, I’d be damned happy to join you there.

“I know, dad. Listen, I promise we’ll talk about this later, ok? Right now, Daisy’s still in danger and like Carlos said, I need to concentrate on the mission. People are counting on me to tell them what to do and I need you to have the same confidence and trust in me that Carlos and everyone else does. Let me do my job, and we’ll all sit down and have a good, long talk afterwards, ok?”

Well, John thought to himself, I always have been a selfish, self absorbed bastard and look at what it’s lead me to. International espionage, a kidnapped daughter in grave danger and a son I no longer know who worships at the feet of a killer for hire. What are you going to do, John? Are you going to let your son think less of you than he does a bloody Yank, or are you going to stop being a worthless sack of shite and finally be the father that he’s always deserved?

“Sure, Danny. We’ll talk later. But whatever’s going to happen, I want to help. I won’t be shown up by Rambo senior here when it’s my daughter’s life we’re talking about.”

Daniel gave Carlos a look John couldn’t quite catch and the others around the table suddenly looked uncomfortable. Diana was the first to speak.

“I’m sorry, love, but you’re not going anywhere. You’re not trained for this at all so you’d just get in the way. But don’t be too sad honey, at least you got the girl and that’s got to count for something, no?”

“What are you talking about, Diana? Of course I’m going. It’s my daughter we’re trying to help and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be left behind. Right, Danny?”

“Uh, dad. As much as it pains me to say it, she’s right.”

“What?!? I can’t believe this!”

“Listen to Daniel, Mr. Maclaren. Aside from you and Diana, everyone here is a trained professional. This is going to be a very dangerous operation as it is and one thing we don’t need is to be so busy babysitting you that we get ourselves, or even worse, your daughter killed in the process.”

“That’s right, babycakes.” Diana said with smug satisfaction. “Listen to Carlos, he knows what’s best for my little snookums.”

“Don’t get too cocky, Diana. The only reason we agreed to let you come along was because you refused to share the layout of your stepfathers house with us unless we did. If we didn’t need that information from you we’d leave you behind with Mr. Maclaren and you two could pass the time playing footsie under the table for as long as you liked.”

John blushed furiously as he realized Carlos had seen the painful kicks Diana had been sending his way all evening. And there was no doubt in his mind that his son had guessed what Diana must have meant by ‘get the girl’. It was embarrassing as all hell that his son knew that he had had sex with a girl who most likely was even younger than his own sister.

Oh lord, John thought to himself. I hope to god that Daisy never finds out about that.

On the bright side, if one could call it that, at least he had the pleasure of knowing that the only reason Diana was being included was because she was essentially blackmailing them with information. Information that, for all John knew, he might also have. He’d been shown around Burrows’ home, so maybe he knew the layout as well as Diana…

What are you thinking, John? You only saw a few rooms in that huge house while Diana’s been there for years most likely. They’re right, you shouldn’t go with them because you’d only get in their way. At least Diana, crazy as she is, might be able to help them do what they need to do, while you’d only slow them down. For a moment he allowed himself to wonder what she was getting out of the whole deal now that she had finally gotten far enough away from Burrows to escape forever. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Daniel’s cell phone.

“Hello”

Silence as Daniel spent a moment listening to whoever was on the other end of the call.

“Did you pick up my package? Good. Was it in good condition? Great.”

Daniels voice then changed slightly. It became more professional, as if he were trying to steel himself to ask something he didn’t really want to know the answer to.

“Was my package late? Oh. How long? Did you leave a tip? How much? Good. Did you put the package into the closet for me? Great, thanks Domingo. I’ll contact you later.”

As he hung up on Domingo, Daniel felt an immense amount of tension leave his body in a rush that left him feeling spent and very, very tired. He hadn’t realized just how much he had been dreading that call until he had gotten it. Looking around the table he realized that everyone was waiting expectantly for him to tell them what had happened.

“That was the man I sent to get Daisy. He and his team managed to get her out, alive and unharmed, and bring her to a safe house under his control. During the extraction, three members of his team were killed or captured and they managed to kill at least 7 of Burrows’ people.”

“Thank god.”

“No, Mr. Maclaren. Thank your son.”

John looked over at Carlos and then, with a sigh of relief that was almost a sob, nodded.

“I guess I should at that.”

John looked at Daniel across the table and saw his own tears of relief reflected in his son’s eyes.

“No need to thank me dad, but we should both thank Domingo later. Right now, Daisy’s as safe as she can possibly be. Don’t worry dad, Domingo’s a good man.”

“Danny, you’re my son and she’s your sister. If you say she’s safe then I’m not going to doubt you. Not anymore.”

Danny was a little surprised by his fathers sudden confidence in him, but he was also glad. It was the first time in a very long time that his father had shown any approval of anything he’d done and amazingly, Daniel found that it still meant something to him.

“Thanks dad. I mean it.”

Danny gathered his thoughts and turned to Marcus and Elija who had been sitting patiently watching everything that transpired with their usual quiet thoughtfulness.

“Guys, this whole thing is going to happen soon so we’re going to need supplies, and fast. Either of you have any contacts nearby who we can count on to be discreet?”

“I got a boy I think is cool. Want me to set up a meeting?”

“Thanks Elija. Why don’t you and Marcus take Diana and get us outfitted. Carlos and I will contact the other teams and send my father to the safe house with my sister. We’ll meet back here in three hours.”

“Cool, dog.”

Diana stood up. “Before we go, I need to use the little girls room. Meet you boys outside. John, it’s been fun. Sex you later, stud.”

“I’ll catch you outside, Elija. Been sitting here so long I gotta pee like a mutherfucker.” With that, Diana and Marcus made their way to the bathrooms in the back.

When Diana made it out to the parking lot a few minutes later she saw Elija standing next to Marcus’ Mustang and talking on his cell phone. Marcus was nowhere in site. As she approached the car she heard Elija say, “Yes sir, I understand.” Then he hung up.

“Hey there, ‘Lija. I’m all ready baby, so where are we going? What did your man say?”

It wasn’t until Elija turned fully around that Diana saw the gun in his hand and noticed Marcus’ body lying motionless next to the car. Two muffled shots rang out in the night and the last thing she ever heard was Elija’s voice sneering at her as she fell to the ground.

“He said, ‘Goodbye.’”

***

Jerry Burrows hung up the phone and turned around to face his wife.

“It’s done, honey. Just the way you wanted. Elija’s taking care of the girl now and our people are on their way here with Megan. Everything’s going just the way you said it would.”

Kate propped herself up on some more pillows on the bed and looked over to her pathetic excuse for a husband. He ducked his head as if her venomous gaze was a physical blow aimed at his ever smiling face. He looked so eager to please her that it was sickening and all Kate wanted to do was walk over and hit him again and again until that stupid, insipid grin was wiped off his face forever. But she couldn’t, so she just kept on hating him and he kept on trying to please her like some demented puppy.

This was the Burrows no one but Kate ever saw. The whimpering little slave that she had so meticulously groomed for years to be her global empire’s front man. If it hadn’t have been for the damned cancer Kate would have disposed of him years ago, but after she was diagnosed she needed him more than ever to keep up the façade that she was just one more of his many victims. That not Kate, but Burrows was the villainous mastermind behind the global empire that held the power of life and death in its hands.

But soon, very soon, that would all be in the past. Kate was going to get a new lease on life thanks to Megan and the bioengineered Kate clone she was carrying. If only that idiot Maclaren had just gone along with the deal, then everyone would have gotten what they wanted. It was all that bitch Diana’s fault. May she rot in hell.

“That’s good, slave. That’s very good. But you still let Maclaren get away and you know what that means.”

Jerry Burrows swallowed hard at the tone of voice his mistress used. Smiling sickly and nodded his head he opened the Toy Chest. He knew his punishment was going to be very long and very, very painful.

He could hardly wait.