Broken Sword, Susarro, Petra and all of the other characters, items and locations belong to Revolution Software. I am merely taking advantage of them and am not making any money with this.
Yet another AU-ish one shot. This one is about what might have happened if the scene in the Armillary had ended differently for Susarro. And unlike my other fic, this hasn't been beta read by anyone. I tried asking around for advice, but with no luck.
The story was inspired by the following, which can be read at the BS3 website:
She worships Susarro - and loyalty to him is unswerving. "My hand-maiden" he calls her, whispering into her ear, gently stroking her hand.
"I am flattered," Susarro said and couldn't help sneering at the Grand Master.
The mangled man stood above them and looked at them with his healthy eye.
"Don't be," he said, "It only means that I have no further use for you."
Susarro's face became even paler when the truth hit him. He saw the smile that split the Grand Master's face and he half expected the man to use some dirty trick on him. However, he did nothing of the sort and merely turned to talk to the other people present.
Petra walked over to finish the adjustments on the Armillary and the machine blossomed to its greatest glory with a steady hum. A mischievous smirk played on her lips.
"Excellent, my dear," the Grand Master said and Petra joined him above them. Susarro watched, slitting his eyes, how the woman wrapped her other arm around the cloaked man and pointed her gun at them.
She had never been in such close terms with him. Hatred for her boiled inside him and his fingers itched to get around her throat. He had been betrayed! Never would have Susarro thought betrayal could come from such an unexpected direction. Petra had been in his forces for almost four years and had never shown anything but complete, eternal loyalty.
What a despicable creature she truly was!
He watched and listened, leaning on his cane, as the Grand Master talked to George and his friends. It seemed like the man was about to leave them to die in the Armillary while he went to collect the fruit of Susarro's work.
His hands held the cane tighter and he would have given anything to be able to smash the Grand Master's head with it. His face was covered by a mask of hatred and he barely paid attention to what George and company were saying. He then watched how Petra and the Grand Master left, and he turned to face the unconscious form of Flap.
"Wake up, fool," he snapped and gave the man a push with the cane. Flap whimpered, but didn't sit up. Susarro let out a frustrated sigh. Couldn't he trust anyone anymore?
"Hey, I think I found something."
George's voice made him lift his eyes and in the next instant he heard the man's warning to his friends and saw him jumping down the stairs which he had been climbing. Whatever was happening, it couldn't be good.
Susarro managed to take one step towards safety before an enormous boom filled his ears and he felt himself falling. After that there was nothing.
The first thing he felt was piercing pain in his left leg. He opened his eyes carefully and at first he saw nothing but darkness. Slowly his senses became sharper, and he started seeing faint shapes.
He tried to speak but his throat was full of dust, and he was only able to cough.
"Señor Susarro? Are you alive?" Now he recognised Flap's voice and struggled to understand what had happened and where he was. He tried to move but it only increased the pain in his leg, so he gave up.
"What happened?" he managed to ask. He heard how Flap sighed in relief and realised that the man had actually been worried about him. That didn't happen too often, not even with fools like that.
"I can't say. I woke up to a terrible scream and noticed that I was buried by rubble, but managed to dig myself free. The whole place is destroyed and you and I are the only ones here," Flap said and suddenly Susarro realised why he was in such a state.
"Something must have exploded and the ceiling fell on me," he muttered to himself. It was unbelievable that he was still alive. He tried to see around in the dark and move his limbs. Excluding the left leg everything seemed to be fine.
"Don't worry, I'll dig you out," Flap's voice was heard again.
"Be careful, or you'll make it all fall on me!" Susarro hurried to warn. Flap promised and started to work. Dust and small stones fell on Susarro's face and he hoped that this idiotic goon wouldn't kill him now.
It took a while before Flap was able to move enough boulders to do something else to help him. Susarro's upper body was now free of rubble and only his other leg was still trapped.
Flap was about to get his hands on the bigger boulders to free his employer, but Susarro hurried to stop him.
"Don't touch them, fool! If you move any of them they will crash on me!" he snapped. His cane was still in his hand and he realised that he had been clutching it with almost desperate strength.
"Then how will I get you free?" Flap asked.
"You'll have to pull me out. Grab my shoulders and be quick", Susarro said. Flap did as was told and lifted Susarro's upper body in his arms. Then he pulled and retreated as quickly as he could.
The sudden and unexpected movement sent a flaming wave of pain through Susarro's leg and he couldn't help crying out.
"My leg!" he exclaimed as Flap let go and left him on the floor. He blinked the tears of agony away and sat up with a hiss.
His leg was broken. The pain was piercing, but he knew it was a small price for freedom. In the worst case he would have had to remain trapped, waiting for death.
"I'm very sorry, Señor Susarro. I couldn't help it. Let me see," Flap said and tried to examine the injured leg, but Susarro shooed the man away.
"Don't touch it!" he forbade. "Help me up. We have to get out of here."
When he looked at Flap he saw that the man's clothes were torn and covered in dust. His hat was gone and a bleeding gash had appeared on his other cheek. Cuts covered his hands and one of the fingers was twisted into a position that looked everything but normal. Nevertheless, there was a satisfied expression on Flap's face.
He offered Susarro his shoulder and the older man managed to get on his feet. He leaned against his employee and used his cane as another leg.
"Where are Stobbart and the others?" he asked as he glanced around. The Armillary was in ruins and all the fine technology lost forever. He didn't mourn for that, but the thought of the Grand Master already possessing the Dragon Power brought a bitter taste to his mouth.
"I don't know. They must have been able to escape. Or perhaps they are buried here somewhere," Flap replied. Susarro felt the need to believe in the former option. Petra had tried to kill George and Nico so many times that it would have been ridiculous if her attempt had worked instantly once she was no longer in his service.
"Look!" he said as he noticed something. A little bit left from them was a fine heap of box-like rocks that formed rough stairs. It was obvious that someone had piled them there. "They went that way."
Flap took a worried glance at him and Susarro frowned at the man. "Don't worry about me! I can make it."
And so they started to follow the path their enemies had showed them. The first steps were the most difficult as Susarro was not used to using his right leg only. Once or twice he put a little weight on the left one and paid for it immediately.
He hoped he'd soon have the leg treated. At least the bone hadn't penetrated his flesh, but if he didn't do something about it fast he might lose the entire limb.
Climbing was difficult, slow and painful. Flap had to help him all the time and Susarro had to clench his teeth not to whimper aloud. When he finally reached the top and got through the hole there he felt greatly relieved. He drew a deep breath and wiped the sweat of agony off his brow.
They had arrived to a big room with some sort pool in the middle. A statue of Horus, one of the Egyptian gods, stood in the water. On the other side of the room was a big seal that most likely was a door. Unfortunately, it was closed.
In front of the pool was a fierce hologram of the god Anubis. It kept muttering something but one couldn't make out all of the words. It was clear that it was broken.
"They must have got out this way," Susarro said to himself. There had to be a switch that opened the door. "Help me to Horus. I want to take a closer look at the mechanism," he said to Flap.
The big man did as he was told and helped his employer to limp in the middle of the room. However, before they got there a small item caught their attention.
"Glasses! What a strange place for them!" Flap noted.
"Indeed," Susarro muttered as he looked at them. He recognised them immediately. They belonged to Bruno Ostvald.
"I wonder why they left them behind," Flap pondered. It seemed that he had also realised who they belonged to.
That was what Susarro would have liked to know as well. Bruno was blind as a bat without his glasses and would have never continued voluntarily without them. Susarro would have even dared to say that the only way to separate the man from them was to kill him. Something must have happened.
He didn't have to wonder about it for too long. All sanctuaries, such as this one, were always full of traps and tests. In fact, now that he thought about it, he figured that Horus had to be something else than a mere piece of decoration.
The price they had to pay for their freedom must have been severe, he thought in amusement as he shot one last look at the glasses.
"If it worked for them, it will work for us," he said. He told Flap to help him to the other side of the room where the sealed door was. Once he was there he leaned against the wall and gestured the other man to return to the pool.
"What do you want me to do, Señor Susarro?" Flap asked as he got there.
"Anything, as long as you try to get that mechanism work. It will open this door and we can leave. Hurry!" Susarro snapped and watched how Flap got to work. What a complete fool.
Once Flap touched one of the statues, the Anubis hologram awoke and stepped in front of the man. He dropped the statue in bewilderment.
"You have defiled this sanctum," the form of Anubis thundered as his figure seemed to grow taller. "And as a punishment you shall face the wrath of the Underworld."
"What do I have to do now?" Flap asked in fright. His eyes were wide and he looked at Susarro like a scared child.
"You don't have to do anything. You have fulfilled your purpose," Susarro said. "Lord Anubis," he said turning to address the coyote-faced hologram. "I have nothing to do with this man. Therefore, I am free to go, am I right?"
"You should have stopped him," the hologram said harshly. The axe in his hands was huge and sharp and Susarro didn't fancy the idea of finding out what it felt like on his neck. For a short moment he was afraid of estimating the situation wrong and that Anubis wouldn't let him go after all. How could he be sure that George and Nico had got out? Then the door started to open.
"Are you going to leave me here?" Flap asked worriedly. Susarro didn't even bother to reply but limped to the other side as fast as he could. He grimaced as his broken leg scratched against the floor and he almost tripped before he got through the door.
It started closing right after he was on the other side, and as he turned to look behind he saw how Flap tried desperately to follow him. The door closed in front of the man's face a little before he would have made it.
"Señor Susarro! Don't leave me!"
The man's fists whacked the closed door and he pleaded Susarro to return and get him. Soon his words turned into one piercing scream of pain and Susarro no longer had to wonder what Flap had been awakened by earlier.
He didn't even blink as one of his most loyal men died a horrible death because of him.
Sacrificing Flap had been necessary for his own survival, but Susarro soon noticed that he needed the man. In his condition it was really difficult and painful to climb the stairs that led out of the Armillary.
Without his cane Susarro would have never made it. He was already physically frail and weakened by his illness, and everything that had happened that day had tired him.
He almost lost his balance a couple of times, and he was making progress very slowly. Every now and then he had to stop and catch his breath. He didn't dare to sit as he was not sure if he would be able to get back up or not.
At the end of the stairs there was a door that he managed to push open. Unlike he had expected, he was not greeted by sunlight. As he climbed out he found himself in the middle of an Egyptian night.
"I am late," he muttered to himself. The Grand Master had already received the Dragon Power unless George had stopped him. Susarro didn't know if he was interested in finding out which man had won. Both possibilities meant the same to him: he would never be able to enjoy the fruit of his hard work.
He lowered his head and closed his eyes in fury. Everything had been for nothing! His fingers itched to get to someone and he felt a rare flare of anger take over him.
Without the woman's betrayal everything could have been his. Even at the very moment he could have been healthy, immortal and capable of doing anything he desired. The world would have knelt in front of him and naturally he would have let Petra enjoy it all.
For years she had served him faithfully and obeyed his every word. She had been patient and sworn everlasting loyalty. Never had she done anything that he should have been displeased with.
It had been too good to be true. Susarro realised now that he had been blind in so many ways. He had offered Petra power and riches for everything she had done for him, but apparently that hadn't been enough. The Grand Master had been able to promise something more.
He was in a bad mood already and didn't want to think about what that could have been.
Dragging his broken leg behind, he limped to the abandoned camp. The full moon glowed on the clear sky and lit the desert. There was nothing useful anymore. The Grand Master had taken all men and equipment with him.
Surviving seemed hopeless and Susarro sat on the nearest smooth stone. His leg ached more than he thought was possible and he felt very tried. Even without an injury it would have been nearly impossible for him to get to the nearest town.
With care he lifted the trouser leg to see how much damage he had suffered. He grimaced as he saw the cuts on his pale skin. The leg was a little swollen and a dark bruise told him of internal bleeding. He would have to get it treated soon.
Thankful for that at least the sun wasn't above him he forced himself to stand up. He would have to get somewhere where he'd be able to contact someone trustworthy.
An enraged, young and naive Templar stood in front of him, eyes blazing. The young man's fists were clenched and he looked at Susarro as if the man was the devil himself.
"You can't do this!" he snapped.
Susarro stood straight and eyed the man. His face was perfectly calm. "What is stopping me?" he asked.
"The Grand Master may be gone, but you still have no right to take over the organization! The next master should be one of us!" the Templar demanded. His face was covered in red spots caused by his anger and his dark hair was a mess.
"All noteworthy Templars died at St. Ninians. None of you can continue the Grand Master's work," Susarro stated.
"And you can? You are not even one of us! You are only the Grand Master's business partner! You have no right to interfere with our matters!" the young Templar continued. He was alone with his opinions as most others had considered their life more important than old traditions.
Susarro shook his head. "You hurt my feelings, young man," he said and turned to glance at someone behind him.
"Petra, kill him."
The loss tasted terrible in his mouth. Anger and hatred for those who had robbed him of everything he had worked for raged inside him. It gave him power and kept him moving when pain and tiredness were about to get a hold of him.
He hadn't got the power that should have been his, but no-one would take revenge from him. Susarro drew a breath and kept going on the rocky road. Every step felt like something was ripping his leg apart and he bit his lip not to just give up and fall to the ground.
Revenge was probably the only thing that made him continue. Without the Dragon Power he couldn't have much time to live and now that the Templars belonged to the Grand Master again, he had barely anything. His imagination fed him with pictures of what he'd do to the Grand Master once he'd get his hands on him.
And Petra... Oh, how he'd enjoy having her in his clutches. Susarro had been betrayed before, but never had he been that shocked when it had happened. The two of them had tolerated each other and been able to work perfectly together. And yes... He had also liked her and wanted her to be worthy of his trust.
He wouldn't be that blind again. When he saw Petra the next time, the woman would find out that she wasn't the only one who could be cruel.
Suddenly he saw light behind a small boulder. Susarro stopped on his heels and let a tired smile spread on his face. Someone was having a fire.
He started heading for it immediately. His steps were already faltering and he staggered as he limped. He was noticed even before he got to the small camp as he was making a lot of noise in his state.
Someone stood up near the fire. From the look of it Susarro guessed the figure to be a man.
"Who's there?" he was asked in clear English. The voice was deep and soft.
"Help me," Susarro breathed. His foot gave in under him and he fell on his knees. He regretted it immediately because the pain flared in his leg and he had to whimper.
Someone was instantly on his side. In the light of the fire he could see that it was a young woman with dark hair.
"Alex, he is hurt!" she exclaimed at her partner who also came closer.
"Seems so," he stated. "Hey buddy, what happened?"
"There was an accident. We had an archaeological dig, but the entire chamber collapsed and we were trapped. Only I survived," Susarro lied quickly. To be honest, it wasn't too far from the truth.
"Oh, how terrible!" the woman said and looked at him with compassion in her eyes. Then she turned at her friend. "We have to get him to a hospital!"
"We do? But we just got here..." Alex muttered and was rewarded with a murderous glare.
"I can't believe you just said that! Go and prepare the jeep!" the woman snapped and the man obeyed, though clearly against his will. She turned to Susarro again and smiled at him in a way that was most likely supposed to be supportive.
"Don't mind Alex. He is always like that, especially if there is any trouble. I am Emily Wilson, and Alex is my husband. Don't worry, we'll get you out of here before you know it," she said.
Susarro didn't like the way she talked to him as if he was a small child. However, he was too tired to do anything about it, so he just concentrated on staying awake. He didn't want to fall asleep before he had talked with someone trustworthy.
"My leg is broken," he warned when Alex came back and offered his help. The man only growled as a reply and jerked him on his feet. Susarro let out a small exclamation and Emily jumped on her feet with him.
"At least try to be gentle," she scolded Alex who didn't bother to say anything, but helped Susarro to their jeep. Emily followed and sat on the front seat.
"Extinguish the fire, Alex," she said. "And bring out sleeping bags here, please."
It didn't take long before they were moving. Alex drove and Emily gave orders.
"Watch out for those bumps!" she snapped every now and then, but her efforts had no real effect on the matter. The jeep kept jumping on the road.
Susarro felt numb and believed that he was starting to get feverish. His leg felt like it was on fire.
"You know, you don't look like an archaeologist. Shouldn't you be strong adventurers, like Indiana Jones?" Alex asked, opening his mouth for the first time during the car trip.
"I am not an archaeologist," Susarro explained. "I was there because I can read ancient texts."
Emily turned to look at him with bright eyes. "Really?" she asked. "Do you know anything about Egyptian curses? That's why we are here now. I saw this great film about the mummy and wanted to come and see Egypt myself! Have you seen the movie?"
To be honest, Susarro didn't know much about the subject. "I recall Boris Karloff being quite good in that role," he dared to reply.
Emily blinked at him.
"Huh? Who? What are you talking about? I mean the movie with Arnold Vosloo. He was so hot!" she squealed with a dreamy expression on her face. Alex didn't look too happy. Neither did Susarro. He was quickly getting enough of the annoying woman who acted like a hyper teenager.
It took them several hours to reach the next town. When they got there they noticed that there wasn't a hospital there at all, only a local doctor who had been out of business for years.
"We can continue on. There is a health centre in the next town," Emily promised, but Susarro said no. He didn't want to travel with the couple anywhere and said that he'd stay in town and call someone to fetch him.
"Are you sure? It will take a while," the woman insisted.
"Come on. If the guy wants to be left alone, don't argue with him!" Alex said and she looked at her husband in annoyance.
"Well! You aren't exactly being helpful!" she snapped. Then she looked at Susarro again. "If there is anything we can... "
"No, there isn't. You have done quite enough."
Susarro stayed with the doctor. He was an old Egyptian man and spoke only a little English. They got along well as neither said much to each other. The doctor showed a desire to do something about Susarro's leg, but was quickly shooed away. Susarro would rather suffer extra pain than to let someone he didn't know get their hands on him.
The first thing he demanded to have was a phone. Once he got it he called his private doctor in Spain.
"Señor Susarro! Is it really you?" was heard from the other end of the line when the person there realised who he was talking to.
"Yes. Why?" Susarro asked.
"The officials are everywhere. They have frozen your public bank account and taken most of your property. I thought you were dead," his doctor, Rodrigo Garcia, said.
"I almost am. I have injuries and need you. They must not have got their hands on all of my money. You know how to get it. Come here and take me out of here. Quick," Susarro told.
After finishing the call Susarro felt exhausted. He didn't know how the showdown between the Grand Master and George had gone, but the results were already showing. Someone was taking over his property, either the Templars or the real officials, and if he didn't do something about it soon he could lose everything.
But he didn't think more about it. He was too tired and let himself fall to feverish sleep. He woke a couple of times at the night, but didn't remember much of it in the morning.
Flames licked the wood in the fireplace and spread warmth and light in the otherwise so cold and dark doom. The fireplace was sturdy and centuries old. Noblemen and women of the past had used to sit in front of it looking at the fire and thinking. A bear's head was hanging above it.
Susarro sat in an arm chair and enjoyed the warmth. He had been feeling cold lately.
Taking over the Templar organization hadn't been too difficult. Most of the knights had immediately realised what was the best for them and now they were all in his control. For the first time since the Grand Master's death, Susarro let himself relax for a while.
The man had died at a very good moment. Susarro had known him for years and worked for him, delivering things the Grand Master needed and taking care of some of the Templars' property. In the process he had learned more about them and slowly gained more power.
But not enough. The Grand Master hadn't been an idiot and had made sure that Susarro never became a serious threat. He was never told enough and he always heard of everything too late.
For a while now Susarro had wanted to get his hands on the Templars' funds. A plan was forming in the back of his mind and he wouldn't be able to set it into motion without money and men.
He frowned and his fingers clenched the armrest of the chair. His doctor had had bad news for him. Susarro had suspected something for a while now, and that was one of the reasons why he wanted to start working on his plan soon. He had originally had no idea that working on the Earth's natural power would affect him so, and it had only made his innate condition worse.
A door was opened behind his back, but he didn't turn around to see who it was. He had agreed to meet someone and it could have been no one else.
"Please, have a seat," he said and the woman took the chair next to him. She crossed her legs and looked at her new employer.
"You wanted to see me," Petra said. "What do you want?"
"You have shown you are ready to do anything for me. You are an excellent killer and didn't even blink when taking care of the last rebel," Susarro replied.
"So you were looking at me?" The cackling flames made shadows dance on Petra's face.
"Yes, and I like what I see. But who are you? You are not one of the Templars and you have never before been involved with them. Where do you come from?" Susarro asked.
"My past doesn't mean anything. What is important is that I am here," the woman said.
"Why? What do you want in return?"
Petra smiled at him. "I desire power. I want to be in a position that allows me to do anything I want without anyone objecting. I want others to ask me what to do," she said.
"No money? You don't want to know about the Templars' old secrets and treasures? Those are usually what newcomers seek," Susarro stated.
"I think they come with the package."
Susarro was lucky. His doctor flew from Madrid to get him and he only had to spend one night in the Egyptian town. They headed back to Spain, countryside to be exact. He owned a small house there that he had bought with a fake name to have a hiding place for unexpected situations.
Never had he imagined he would actually need it. However, now he was glad for having it. It was one of those things that the officials hadn't got their hands on.
It was pretty funny, actually. When he had been in the lead of the Templars borders had opened for him, custom officials had become blind and he had dined with people in high positions. Now that it had been a little over a day since his so called death, they were already taking everything away.
He didn't lose his leg, though. It was operated on as soon as possible and after some rest he felt much better. When pain and the fear of not surviving didn't distract him anymore he was twice as angry as before.
"Who is taking my money?" he asked his doctor. Well, most of it belonged to the Templars, but that was just a minor detail.
"I don't know. I have tried to find out about things, but there are no names anywhere. It looks like the Templars are taking their own back and more now that everyone thinks you are dead," Garcia said.
"An unfortunate drawback," Susarro muttered. He would have to do something about it, as soon as he was back on his feet.
"More than that, if I may say. Most of your bank accounts have been emptied. You can barely afford to pay me," the doctor replied seriously.
"Don't you worry, you will get what is yours. I only need to arrange some things first."
"If I were you, I'd concentrate on having a rest. You are not in the condition to play anything. This adventure has only made it worse and as you obviously didn't gain the power that was supposed to... " A certain tone of arrogance could be heard in Garcia's voice. The man was a scientist and didn't believe in anything that he couldn't check from a book on Physics. He had always thought Susarro's plans about the Dragon Power were only a desperate dream of a dying man, even though much of Susarro's state could be blamed on that same power.
"I know!" Susarro glared daggers at his doctor, and the man decided it was the best to shut up and leave his patient alone. Susarro was grateful for that as he really wanted to think things over.
He would have to be careful now. The Templars would not be too happy to hear that he was still alive. He also knew that he wouldn't be able to take over the organization anymore, and now that his plan had failed he no longer had use for them.
He didn't have very accurate information on what had happened in Glastonbury. Apparently the biggest local tourist attraction had been destroyed, and now even more curious people would gather around it in some kind of magical confrontation, as the locals liked to call it.
And the Grand Master was dead, this time permanently. No matter how George had done it, Susarro would have liked to be there to see the mangled man go down. If he didn't get the Dragon Power, no one else should either.
He couldn't say much about Petra, though. Perhaps she was dead, perhaps alive and ran somewhere to lick her wounds. He hoped from the bottom of his heart that she was still kicking, if only to get to kill her himself.
It took some months before he was on his feet again. His leg didn't heal properly and he would limp for the rest of his life, and it also ached whenever the weather was too cold or wet. It didn't bother him as a new handicap in his weakening body didn't feel like much.
Unlike he had promised his doctor, he didn't really see much trouble to get his lost property back. Instead he concentrated on saving whatever was left. It was more than enough for his remaining time.
He felt quite restless and wandered a lot around his house and the surrounding countryside in late evenings mostly when he didn't have to worry about the sun. His house was located in the countryside some distance away from a small village.
In the eyes of an outsider he looked like a frail old man who preferred to live an isolated life in rural Spain. He had a trusted man who brought everything he needed from the village, so that he didn't have to bother there himself. He had no desire to learn to know anyone there and the villagers left him be, with the exception of a group of coal-haired children who liked to follow him and whisper behind his back. Susarro hated children and they seemed to sense it, which was why they always appeared when he would have liked to be alone. Perhaps they expected him to yell at them and drive them away. If it was that they experienced a disappointment every evening. Susarro simply couldn't bother to pay them any attention.
He had received information about Petra and it indeed looked like she was still alive. He had only needed one man in the underworld and immediately he had started hearing news about a cold-blooded, blonde killer who did anything for the right price. She was not afraid of anything, didn't respect anyone and didn't think twice when agreeing to kill someone.
It was his Petra, alright.
According to the latest news she was still in Britain. It was a place where Susarro wouldn't have liked to go with his aching leg, but it couldn't be helped.
"With all respect, I think you are being ridiculous," Garcia stated angrily one evening when he had come to visit Susarro. He stopped by every now and then to see how he was doing, and never brought good news.
"How so? I am only trying to get even," Susarro stated behind his desk. He had crossed his hands on the table and his stare didn't leave the other man even for the shortest moment.
Rodrigo Garcia was a sturdy man. His black hair didn't show any signs of getting grey or falling off, even though he was nearing his fifth decade. He wore glasses that gave him an academic look, he had an expensive watch around his wrist and was always wearing a neat, white suit.
"But you can't just go to England in that condition! Your short adventure in Egypt, the previous stress and travelling around the world did you no good. A new experience like that could break your health for good. At least wait for a while so that you are properly healed and... " Garcia suggested.
"I will never heal!" Susarro's exclamation made Garcia shut up and he blinked.
"We both have known that for years. It's still stupid to rush to England after Petra. She is only a woman, after all," he said with professional calmness.
"Her betrayal cost me more than you can imagine," Susarro growled. He pressed his hand on his chest. "The pain increases every day. I don't have much time. I can feel it."
"At least you are ready to admit it now. I thought you would exhaust yourself by running after that non-existent Dragon Power around the globe," Garcia said chuckling. Susarro was not in an amused mood and frowned. The doctor noticed it immediately and grew serious again.
He sighed. "I can't stop you, but this is still idiotic," he said.
Susarro said nothing to that. He hadn't expected Garcia to accept his plans; the man most likely feared that Susarro wouldn't come back and that he would therefore lose a good deal of his incomes.
"At least listen to your common sense and try not to get yourself hurt. I am a good doctor, but even I can't do anything if you catch pneumonia or fall off a roof," Garcia advised.
"I will consider it, thank you," Susarro stated dryly. Garcia nodded and was soon on his way. It was no use talking to Susarro when the man had made up his mind about something.
Susarro knew what he was about to do. During the weeks that he had allowed himself to rest he hadn't forgotten Petra for a second. The woman's face was clear in his mind, as if he had just recently seen her, and the anger he felt for her warmed him.
He had an old comrade in England and knew he could trust him. That very night Susarro wrote to him and asked him to organize something for him.
Petra shook her head and looked angry and disappointed with herself. "They got away at the last moment," she admitted. "They also blocked the elevator."
Susarro sighed. "They are starting to annoy me. If we don't do something soon they might become a real problem," he said.
"Don't worry. I will get them next time," Petra promised.
A week later Susarro travelled to England. He flew by a private plane his comrade had arranged and arrived to a small airport in the countryside late at night. The rain was pouring down when he stepped out and he pressed his hat deeper onto his head.
The rain would drench him before he got to the car that was waiting for him near. Water was falling down his back, but at that moment he had bigger things in his mind. He was finally in England.
"It has been a while," he was greeted when he sat inside the car. "I didn't really expect to see you again."
On the driver's seat sat a middle-aged man. He had a cigarette in his mouth, was wearing a worn-out suit and some of his blond hair was gone. The man was very slim and his cheeks were just slightly shallow.
"You weren't supposed to," Susarro stated.
"It was really close last time, you know. If you hadn't paid in time I wouldn't have gone through with it," the other man said. Then he thought about it. "Though I don't mind seeing you. More money for me, I guess."
"Most likely, Ant."
Ant glanced at Susarro as he started the engine and then turned his attention to the road. "So, why are you interested in this chick? I never thought you to be a ladies' man," he said.
Susarro tightened his hold on his cane.
"I have unfinished business with her. Have you taken care of everything?" he asked.
"Of course I have. Finding her was not that difficult when I knew where to look at, but I really had to work hard to convince her to meet 'Mr. Daniels' as I decided to call you. She is one suspicious tiger, if you ask me. You'll meet her tomorrow, but she wanted to choose the place. Sorry about that," Ant explained.
"That can't possibly be helped. Petra is only being herself," Susarro said.
"Though she did pick a strange place. Can you imagine, an abandoned barn outside Hawickmouth? I would have expected her to choose a little more... crowded place. Doesn't she fear that you might kill her there in the middle of nowhere?"
Susarro felt the urge to smile. "She chose a place where she can kill me if things go that far."
Ant ignored the comment. "And payment is taken care of as usual?"
Susarro didn't know what Ant's real name was or where the man was really from, and he wasn't very interested in finding out. The man looked and acted like any common bum, but if you paid him enough he'd do anything.
He had used the man's services a couple of times before. They weren't friends by any chance, but Ant had made it clear that he liked working for Susarro. He said that he was never bored in his service.
"What are you going to do? She thinks you are a rich crime lord who wants to get rid of his brother. That illusion will break once she sees you," Ant stated.
"It doesn't matter. I am eager to see her expression when she realises that I am still alive."
They drove through the night. Susarro had had to arrive to the country without anyone noticing it, so his plane had been forced to land on an airport far away from Hawickmouth. He dozed off a couple of times, and the rain stopped.
It was noon when they arrived to the small town known as Hawickmouth in eastern parts of England. It was surrounded by hills and small forests and one could have taken many nice pictures of it for tourists.
Ant drove to the centre where Susarro got off.
"When and where do you want me to pick you up?" Ant asked.
"I have no exact plans. I will call once I need you," Susarro replied. Ant gave him the final directions on where he would meet Petra. Then the man drove away leaving Susarro on the street.
He started walking through the town. The day was relatively warm and there wasn't a sign of the rain that had tortured the airport the previous night. A couple of locals walked past him and glanced at him, but didn't bother to say anything. That was fine with Susarro as he didn't want to exchange a single word with them.
His feet took him to the edges of the town where the houses were older and dirtier, but still good enough for someone to live in them. Hawickmouth was too small to have a real slum in it.
Two small, loud boys ran past him. It was Sunday and children were not in school.
Finally he didn't see any more houses as he walked and the street became a road. He kept going and went over Ant's directions in his mind. The man had told him to go on until he came to crossroads and turn towards west. The road would become smaller and finally turn into a path before he'd see an old barn near it.
It took several hours for him to arrive there. Susarro felt a little out of breath and his leg ached, but he was nevertheless pleased to have reached his destination.
The building was indeed very old and had probably once served as a shelter for animals. It was built of thick wooden balks that must have been impressive once. Now they were fragile with time, grey and half eaten by maggots.
The door was not closed and Susarro stepped in. It was dim inside and the dry, dusty air tickled his throat. He waited for a while for his eyes to adjust in the dark and started to look around.
There wasn't much extra junk in the barn. A big heap of straw lay piled against one of the walls. It was old and dry and looked like a couple of generations of mice had used it as their home. Near the straws was a low bench and a lantern stood on it. Next to it was a box of matches and used cigarettes decorated the floor.
There were no windows but the roof seemed to be in a good shape. The little light that got inside came through the holes in the walls and under the door.
Susarro sat down on the bench to wait. He slipped his hand inside his jacket and drew out a gun. It was years since he had last handled one himself. Once he had become powerful and rich enough to hire someone to do his dirty work, he hadn't bothered to touch fire weapons anymore.
Even now he could have simply sent someone to take care of Petra and have her exposed of before she even realised what hit her.
The anger and disappointment wouldn't let him handle it that easily. This was too personal to be given to anyone else's shoulders. He slipped the gun back and kept waiting.
He was in no hurry.
When hours flew past and the light faded away, he decided to lit the lantern. The flame burnt with a happy dance and spread playful light in the barn. He didn't sit back on the bench but stepped on the edge of the light to stretch his muscles.
It wouldn't take long anymore.
For a while Susarro only stood there, half hidden in shadows, and thought. What would he say to Petra? It had been obvious since the beginning that he wouldn't let her walk away from their meeting, but what about before that?
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a creak from the door. He felt how his heart started pounding faster and he told himself to calm down. There was no reason to get so excited about killing a so called old friend.
The door was opened slowly and someone stepped in. Susarro was standing withd his back on the newcomer, but he could hear the click of a gun.
Petra sounded the same. Even before he turned around Susarro knew in what position she was. Her weight on her left leg, a hand with a gun pointed at him, and her left hand on her hip.
But it wasn't his Petra.
"You!" Petra exclaimed and took a surprised step back. The hand holding the gun shook a little before she lowered it, and green eyes stared at Susarro, wide with shock.
Her once so beautiful face was ruined, something had burnt half of it and even part of the skin on her neck and arms was covered in ugly scars. "You can't be here!"
"You have much to learn about betrayal. Never leave the victim alive," Susarro stated. He kept his both hands on his cane and looked at the woman's destroyed skin. She now resembled the Grand Master. How fitting.
He took a few steps towards her and she backed away lifting her gun again. "Don't come any closer!" she warned. Susarro didn't even stop to think but stepped right in front of her. He grabbed her hand, just like had had done numerous times before, and pushed it down. The woman didn't resist.
Then Susarro, without a word, hit her her. Petra took a quick breath and stumbled a step back, the spell broken. When she lifted her gaze again her eyes blazed with hatred.
"You're right. This time I have to make sure you do die," she said and wiped a trickle of blood from the corners of her mouth. She was about to lift her gun again, but Susarro already had his prepared.
"Not so fast, my dear Petra," he said and her lips twisted into a smirk.
"Do you even know how to use that?" she asked.
"If I have to."
They stood there, pointing their guns at each other. There was only a metre or two between them. The lantern burnt behind Susarro and the man's shadow fell on Petra.
"How did you survive?" she asked.
"The same way Stobbart did, I suspect," Susarro said. He should have pulled the trigger and ended it right there. There was nothing to say and he had seen her shock. One shot and it would have been over. Perhaps Petra would have had time to fire her own gun before she hit the ground, perhaps not.
She slit her eyes as Susarro mentioned George's name and an expression of pure hatred fell on her face.
"I heard he managed to defeat the Grand Master. Quite easily actually, and it wasn't even the first time," Susarro added as he noticed that he had hit a sore spot. He felt dark pleasure as he saw how much the Grand Master's death had affected Petra, and at the same time it made him angry. What had been so special about the man?
What happened next surprised him so perfectly that he didn't even properly realise the situation. Suddenly his gun was gone and replaced by pain that quickly spread to his entire hand. He exclaimed, surprised by Petra's swift kick and backed a step, but it was no use. She was on him in an instant, her own gun forgotten.
Susarro had no chance. He was a weak, old man and Petra a fully trained professional killer. The woman charged at him, as if something had made her go out of her mind. One thing was for sure, she no longer resembled the cold murderer Susarro had known.
The lantern fell to the ground as the two of them crashed against the bench, but neither of them noticed it.
Petra delivered a sharp punch in his face and his ears rang. Without fully realising it he tried to fight back and get free of her. In the back of his mind something nagged at him that he had been really stupid and careless, but evolution in the situation pushed those thoughts away.
He tried to push the woman off him, but she had a tight hold. A mask of hatred and rage was on her face and she seemed to have no idea what she was doing. One shot would have been enough to kill Susarro.
The fire from the broken lantern had spread to the heap of straw and was now licking the walls.
"Never speak of the Grand Master with that tone," Petra growled at him. The corner of Susarro's other eye was throbbing and quickly swelling. His breathing was heavy under the woman and, surprised by her quick attack, he tried to come up with something useful.
His cane had flown away and he wouldn't reach it no matter what.
Petra took out her gun again and pointed it at his forehead. A small smile appeared on her lips.
"Kill him, Petra," she said mocking the words Susarro had said to her so many times. He watched how she turned the gun away and bent closer. The fire had spread to the ceiling and a drop of sweat, caused by the heat, fell on his face from the tip of Petra's nose.
For a couple of seconds they only stared each other in the eyes. Then Susarro pushed his hand in the fire and threw a burning piece of wood at the woman's face. She yelped in pain and Susarro managed to roll free under her.
He stumbled on his feet not caring about the ache in his burnt hand, and tried to see where either his gun or cane was. The barn was ablaze now and he didn't manage to take even one step before Petra tackled him again.
"You die now," she hissed. Susarro tried to struggle towards the door, but Petra had no intention of letting go. Then his eyes caught something dark that lay in the middle of flames.
"No, you," he said grabbing his burning hot gun.
Neither of them noticed the roof falling on them before it was too late.
He hit the end of his cane on the ground and watched how his men loaded the plane. Their destination was Egypt, and he felt unusually excited. Only a little over a day and the Dragon Power would be his!
"Everything is almost ready for departure, Señor Susarro," Petra came to announce. She walked next to him with swinging steps.
"And Ostvald? Has he been taken care of?"
"Of course. There is no way he could escape," the woman assured.
"Good. At this point we can't afford any more mistakes," Susarro said.
"Don't worry. I have personally made sure that everything goes according to the plan."
Susarro turned to look at the woman. Her loyalty and excitement to do this still surprised him. Petra respected him as if he was her father and he liked it. He would have trusted his life with her, an honour no one else had ever received with no fear.
"My dear," he said softly. "What would I do without you?" He lifted a gloved hand to brush a few white strands of hair behind Petra's ear. The woman tilted her head so that his fingers touched her cheek.
"You wouldn't be here now," she stated with a smirk on her lips. She took his hand and pushed it down.
"Perhaps so," Susarro said not wanting to admit how much use the woman had been in the years. "We must hurry if we want to reach the Armillary in time."
After leaving from Prague, they had headed to Spain where they went through several last minute arrangements. Now everything was starting to be ready and it was time to finish everything in Egypt.
"Of course," Petra admitted and they walked to the plane side by side.
The next morning, after the fire had been extinguished and only smoking ruins remained, they were able to go through the scene. Two firemen, called Anthony and Rick, lifted a blackened balk. A sad sight greeted them.
Two blackened bodies lay under all the dirt and rubble. It was impossible to say what age or gender they had once been. One body lay across the other and it looked like the dead one had wanted to protect the other in their last moments. Or perhaps it was just a coincidence.
Anthony shook his head. "The local youngsters used to come here in the evenings. I guess things got too hot for these two," he said. Rick nodded darkly.
"They must have been lovers."