4.2: An Old and Unresolved Case

When Matt arrived at the castle, Anne and Bethany gave him a warm welcome, but they could both tell immediately that his mind was on other matters.

While Bethany munched on a lemon cookie, Anne said worriedly, "Mr. Xanatos told me about what happened last Friday. You have every right to be furious at him, but please, don't let it eat away at you, or think about how to get back at him. Vengeance never really helps anyone; it--"

"It just starts a vicious cycle," Matt said, finishing the sentence for her. "You don't have to tell a cop about that; we see the results on the streets every day. Relax, Anne; I'm not going to try to get revenge on him. But I do need to talk to him, and it might as well be now. Is he in his office?"

Anne said he was, and Matt went there directly. He found Xanatos on the phone with someone, talking in rapid-fire Russian; probably a business call, since it was already early Monday morning in some regions of Russia. The billionaire saw him and covered the receiver long enough to switch to English and say, "Let me finish this call, and I can be in the gym in ten minutes. Owen should already have some workout clothes laid out for you."

Matt shook his head. "Right now, I want information more than a free shot."

Xanatos raised his eyebrows at him, but went back to the phone conversation, and finished it a few minutes later. After hanging up, he said, "What sort of information do you need?"

"Information concerning a woman I ran into before coming here. A woman who was a key figure in a criminal case, back in 1989…"


Back in 1989, Matt had still been a proud member of the FBI. He'd been in the Bureau for over two years already, and had finally shed the 'rookie' status, but knew he still had a lot to learn. Back then, he'd thought the best way to learn what he needed to know in order to be a top-notch agent, was to emulate his older and far more experienced partner, Martin Hacker. It hadn't been hero-worship, but it had come close. Even off-duty, they'd hung around together, going to baseball games and barbecues. They got along great… except for Martin's continual derision of Matt's private quest, the hunt for proof of the existence of the Illuminati. But since Matt was already used to people rolling their eyes whenever he brought the subject up, he didn't take it personally.

Then one day back in December of 1989, Matt had been doing paperwork on their latest case when Martin had come in with a bemused expression, and told him that they were being temporarily assigned to another division; from the field investigation team for Washington DC, to the Witness Protection division. Specifically, they were being assigned to keep watch over one particular woman, in a hospital in the Queens borough of New York… a woman in a coma.

Matt remembered asking incredulously, "You're kidding, right?" He and Martin had been waist-deep in a case at the time, one of a serial killer who had butchered his way across two states already, and they were being pulled off that to baby-sit someone in a coma? Bethesda Hospital already had a special wing for cases like that, important people who had to be watched over at all times while lying helpless in their beds, and a small staff of medically-trained FBI personnel already assigned to watch over them. Why not just ship her down to DC in an ambulance and move her to a bed in that wing, and let the field agents do what they were trained to do? But Martin had quoted "Ours not to question why," pointed out that this duty would make it much easier for Matt to see his family in New York on his days off, and told him to have his bags packed in twelve hours.

The next day, they'd been in the Queens Hospital Center, looking over the medical chart for the woman listed in the hospital records as "Aurora Jones," and listening to the local police officer who'd been minding her until their arrival. The woman was actually a resident of Manhattan who worked in the local district attorney's office, and had disappeared after leaving work six months ago. Foul play had been suspected but nothing could be found; she'd vanished without a trace… until reappearing in her own apartment three days ago.

A neighbor had heard faint sounds of movement through the walls just before dawn, and fearing that the place was being burgled, had called the super. But when the super had come up and unlocked the door, he'd found only the woman lying there on her own bed, as if lying in state for a funeral. The EMT's he'd hurriedly called in had noted the cold and clammy feel of the woman's skin and the lack of a pulse, had pronounced her dead on the scene and taken her out in a body bag.

But what the EMT's didn't know was that the coroner working the night shift in the morgue at Manhattan Medical had received an anonymous phone call, at midnight the night before. A stressed-sounding man had hissed, "You'll be receiving a patient soon, a woman who seems dead. But she was given an injection of Pulmozine; it simulates a deathlike state, but can be reversed!" the man had rattled off the name of the antidote for the drug, then hung up before the night-shift coroner could get any more details.

People working the night shift in morgues get all sorts of crazy calls. The coroner had chalked it up to Crazy Call #17 for the month, and hadn't thought much more about it… until the woman had been brought in, just as his shift was ending. She was seemingly dead without a mark on her… and he wondered…

The hospital pharmacy carried the phone-recommended antidote, which was generally used to treat patients with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. The coroner had gotten a buddy in the pharmacy to give him a vial of the drug, loaded a hypodermic needle and injected it into the woman's heart, all the while telling himself that he really needed to go home and get some sleep, and stop listening to crazies. But less than a minute later, he'd found a pulse. She didn't wake up or respond to anystimuli, but she definitely had a pulse…

The physician who'd been immediately called in on the case had the brains to figure out that someone really wanted this woman dead, as much as someone else was trying to keep her alive. He'd had her admitted to the main hospital as "Aurora Jones," then pulled a couple more strings to get her transferred to Queens Hospital Center under that fake name. (If she was discovered anyway, he wanted no death-dealing gangsters or hired assassins wandering his hospital corridors, thankyouverymuch.)

The physicians at Queens Hospital Center had given the comatose woman a thorough examination upon arrival, and had determined that she'd given birth less than 24 hours ago; probably only moments before being given the Pulmozine. A very discreet examination of the woman's real medical records showed that she'd been diagnosed as being pregnant, just a few days before her disappearance; an appointment had been made for an ultrasound, but she'd never had a chance to keep it.

Which meant, Matt had theorized as he'd sat there in a chair beside the hospital bed, that someone either had wanted to kill the woman immediately after her kidnapping, but had balked at killing an unborn child and had decided to wait until after delivery…or someone had kept her alive for six months because he/she wanted that baby, enough to kidnap and kill for it.

Either scenario was possible, Matt knew. Even hardened criminals had their own codes of ethics and morals; in his short career in the FBI, he'd already dealt with men who would kill human strangers without a second thought but who rescued abandoned kittens from garbage cans. And he'd heard about that kidnapping-murder case in Arkansas, in which a heavily pregnant woman had been kidnapped by a childless couple and chained up in a barn until she gave birth to her baby, then murdered and left in a shallow grave while the couple raised the baby as their own.

"But we have absolutely no clue as to who did it," Matt had grumbled on that first day. "The only one who might know who kidnapped her is 'Aurora' herself… and she's not talking. Isn't the whole point of the Witness Protection Program, to protect people who either have, or are about to, testify against an influential criminal? A known threat?"

"Someone made this woman disappear for a full six months, then somehow got her back into her own apartment, in an upscale apartment building I might add, without anyone reportedly seeing a thing," Martin had pointed out. "To me, that says someone not only criminal, but with a helluva lot of influence. And frankly, partner, I thought better of you than to question someone's need for protection…"

"You're right; I'm sorry," Matt had sighed. "I'm just still bugged about being pulled off the Eviscerator case we were working on. I just know we were this close to a getting a break on the case, and if another teen turns up dead with his own guts pulled out and used for tying him up…"

Martin had nodded sober agreement, and expressed hopes that the team they had so abruptly handed the case over to, would be able to get up to speed quickly and catch the killer before he struck again.

And as it turned out, the next team had no trouble finding the killer. The very next day after Matt had expressed his worries, a man had been found dead in his Virginia home, an apparent suicide case, and the note he'd left behind had contained a full and signed confession for killing the six teenagers in Virginia and Maryland. His fingerprints had matched the prints found on the second and fourth murder victims, so the cases had been declared closed, despite a police officer's insistence that the man hadn't hung himself from that light fixture (the tipped-over chair he'd apparently stood on to reach the light fixture, in order to hang himself, had seemingly had most of his dusty shoeprints brushed off by someone else long before the police arrived!)

Matt had wondered about the dusted-off chair as well, but Martin had just shaken his head and said, "Sometimes, you have to just take what's given and be thankful for it. If some vigilante forced the man to confess before hanging him, at least he nailed the right guy, and the streets are a little safer for teens than they were last week." Matt had finally agreed, and they'd settled into a routine of watching over their comatose charge.

The doctor assigned to the woman's case had hurriedly studied what little medical data had been gathered on Pulmozine; more than half of the people who were injected with it and later revived—though not all victims could be revived—made a full recovery. But the remaining survivors suffered brain damage, from lack of oxygen; lasting damage ranging from simple-mindedness to impaired motor functions, making them stagger and stumble about. (There was some speculation that voodoo practitioners of old had made use of Pulmozine to create their 'zombie' servants.) There was no data on victims being revived but remaining in a coma… but the woman had just gone through childbirth, which was always a physically draining experience, and there was no telling what physical and mental traumas she'd suffered during her six months of captivity. Whatever she had suffered, had combined with the Pulmozine—and doubtless the mental anguish of losing her baby to whoever had kidnapped her—with the result that, though her EEG clearly showed some brain activity, she was incapable of waking up. At least, not yet; as with a fair percentage of people in comas, she might recover eventually, to at least partial function if not a full recovery. Possibly…

Matt had seen in movies that people in comas sometimes responded to sounds they liked, such as the voices of loved ones, and asked the doctor if he thought that would help. "Well, it couldn't hurt," the doctor had shrugged. "Except for the risk of violating her cover identity, of course. If someone accidentally blabs that she's alive after all, then all the cover-up your people are doing, including that fake 'autopsy' that supposedly took place yesterday…"

"Will fall apart like used tissue," Matt had finished for him. "But I was thinking more along the lines of discreetly taping their voices—we could have officers go over to interview them about the 'murder' case, with tape recorders in their pockets—and playing them back for her. Have you ever heard of that working?"

"Can't say that I have, but like I said before, it couldn't hurt." The doctor had thought a moment, then added, "And if you bring me the tape recorder and a blank tape, I'll make a recording of a newborn crying in the nursery. The instincts of motherhood can be so strong, some new mothers will respond to the sound of nearly any baby crying. We might get lucky… Though if she wakes up in response to that, I'll let you law enforcement types tell her the baby is still missing, okay?"

Matt had brought in the handheld tape recorder he sometimes used for recording interviews in FBI cases, and in due course the doctor had produced a tape of a newborn infant crying. They had played it in the private room, once an hour nearly every hour, for a full two days… but she'd never responded. And eventually Martin had recommended the tape be put away, before he ripped it out of the player and crushed it; it was just too damn depressing.

Taping the voices of other loved ones had proved to be problematic. It turned out the woman had no living relatives; both parents and all grandparents dead, and no brothers, sisters or even cousins to turn to. A look in her address book might have revealed a list of close friends, but that book had been taken by the official investigators in hopes of finding leads when she'd first disappeared. They hadn't dared to requisition it from the investigators, and risk the wrong set of eyes being turned in their direction. Then the doctor had reminded them that though he had no hard data on its effectiveness, the folklore was that sometimes playing a comatose patient's favorite music helped…

So even as the official funeral for their 'sleeping beauty' had been taking place, attended by dozens of people (all of whom were discreetly photographed by a local detective working on the 'murder' case, for investigating later), Matt had quietly broken into the woman's apartment and looked over her music collection. It had been a fairly eclectic mix; modern 'soft pop' next to tapes of classical music, with some audiotapes of poetry readings thrown in for good measure. Matt had boxed and carried out roughly a third of the collection—the tapes that showed the most subtle signs of use—brought them back to the hospital and began playing them, one every few hours.

And they had waited, and watched, and waited, and played music, and waited… but she hadn't stirred. Days turned into weeks, and she never stirred. From his daily reading of the local papers and his conversations with the local FBI office, Matt knew that the investigation into the woman's "death" was proceeding, and a few possible leads had been uncovered… and more people had died.

First the woman's boss, the local district attorney, had been found dead at the Central Park carousel. He'd been seemingly torn apart by a wild animal… along with a man who was suspected of being a gun-for-hire responsible for the deaths of at least four people between 1986 and 1989. No one knew why the two men had been at the park together, that late at night, and both armed… with guns that had been fired, though no other victim had been found.

Then one of the woman's friends, a local millionaire, first had his business empire brought to its knees, then been falsely accused of the murder of the district attorney, and finally been murdered himself, in a fiery explosion aboard his yacht. And all that had apparently happened because, unwilling to simply leave matters to the police, he had been conducting his own investigation into his friend's death. And presumably had gotten closer to the killer than the police had, to warrant such a thorough destruction…

Matt had absolutely itched to leave the hospital and jump into the investigation as well. Particularly after getting a description of the man who had paid for the by-then-former millionaire's bail, after he had been wrongfully accused of murder. Witnesses at his release said that he had been puzzled and surprised to see the man who'd paid the bail, then extremely wary of him; no one had been close enough to hear what they'd been saying, but they'd seen that eventually the two men had walked out together, the former millionaire with a weary, resigned posture "like a man going down The Last Mile, on his way to the Chair." And it so happened that one of the street cops who'd been walking into the precinct as the two men had walked out, had been one of those rare individuals blessed with a photographic memory; he literally never forgot a face. Everyone agreed that talent would make him a fine detective one day, and in the meantime, he'd been able to help the resident sketch artist make a perfect picture of the former millionaire's companion.

While Martin had been off shift, Matt had curiously asked their contact at the local FBI office for a copy of that sketch… and when it had arrived, had recognized the man as a high-ranking financial officer for a consortium called Hanover Norton Trust. A company that Matt had found references to more than once, in his quest for the Illuminati! He'd started compiling data on the CEO and leading officers of the company, but hadn't gotten all that far before getting yanked away from his desk to come up to New York. Just far enough to get pictures and basic biographical data on them, including this man, Gregory Pope…

What if the Illuminati had been behind this woman's apparent death? If Matt could find out who had 'killed' her and taken her baby, not only would justice for her and her child be done, but he might well be one step closer to cracking that elusive organization at last!

But Martin had slammed down his idea, with a harshness that Matt had never seen before in his partner. "You so much as talk to anyone about this case, and I swear I'll report you myself, and have your ass fired so fast your shorts will have to catch up to you! We're here to guard this woman, before the people who wanted her dead so badly get their way after all! Our cover story is that she's my adopted kid sister and your fiancée, so we have a reason to be here around the clock. But if you start poking around, and the wrong people notice you poking around, and they trace you back to here… You'll be putting a bullet through her brain yourself!"

Duly chastened, Matt had dropped the subject. He hadn't even argued when his partner insisted that all further information about the case be brought to him first, and he would decide what Matt would be informed about. He'd known that Martin was right; once you were assigned to guard somebody, you didn't leave your post, not without a damned good reason… and personal quests weren't nearly good enough, not this time. So he'd just kept watch, and played music, and waited…

And then one day, she had smiled.

There had been a raging thunderstorm outside that day, and Matt had been sitting reading a book, when he'd heard a small sound coming from the hospital bed… and looked up to see the woman smiling. Still unconscious, but smiling! The tape playing at the moment had been Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, and it had been played before several times without a response, but this time… that had definitely been a smile!

It was the thunderstorm, Matt had realized. The sounds of the thunderstorm and Schubert, together, had seeped deep into her comatose mind and triggered an extremely happy memory for her! What sort of memory that could have been, he had no idea, but that hardly mattered; all that had mattered was that it had been the first real sign that some part of the woman's mind, that had made her what she'd been before her kidnapping, was still functioning.

After the thunderstorm passed all too quickly, the smile had faded away, but Matt had been determined to bring it back. As soon as his shift had been over, he'd run out and bought a second tape player and small pair of speakers, and scoured the aisles and bins of the local music store until he'd found a sound effects tape for a great booming thunderstorm. And the next day, he'd set everything up and played both the thunderstorm sounds and the Unfinished Symphony together. And slowly but surely, the smile had come back…

And every day after that, she'd improved just a little more. Matt had played Schubert's Unfinished Symphony until he knew every note of it by heart, and the thunderstorm tape until he'd started unconsciously taking his umbrella with him everywhere he went, but neither he or Martin had cared; all that mattered was that the woman was getting better. Going by what the doctors called the 'Rancho Los Amigos Scale' of coma recovery, she'd progressed a little further every day, from I (no response) to II (generalized response) to III (localized response.) Four days after that first smile, she'd finally opened her eyes.

But she hadn't immediately snapped back to her old self, as generally happened in the movies; she'd been severely confused and disoriented, like someone completely wiped out by booze but without a drop in her system. She didn't even know her own name, the one he and Martin said aloud only when no one else was in the room. It was another five days before her mind healed enough for her to remember her name, and to follow simple directions such as holding a glass of water or drinking it.

On the sixth day after her awakening, Matt had been reading to her from a magazine, but stopped for a few minutes to answer the call of nature in the private hospital room's bathroom. But while he'd been 'occupied' he'd heard a muffled thumping coming from beyond the closed door, even though he'd been careful to lock and brace the door before going into the bathroom. When he'd come back in, he'd found her sprawled beside the bed, trying clumsily to get to the door that opened onto the corridor, and sobbing wildly that she had to get out, had to get out of there!

More of her memory had returned, Matt had realized… including at least a scrap of her memories of her months-long captivity. He'd tried his best to soothe her, but nothing had worked, and finally he'd had to call a nurse in to sedate her. And her whimpers of 'No, don't hurt my baby!' as the nurse had approached with the needle had nearly broken his heart…

When Martin had come on shift that afternoon, Matt had told him about the incident, and Martin had nodded pensively. "It figures that the first returning memories would be the most traumatic ones. But still, it's probably another good sign that she's recovering."

"I wish we had some good news to give her," Matt had said sadly. "Do the people working on the case have any idea yet of who kidnapped and tried to kill her? Or what happened to her baby? If we could just tell her that her baby is safe, or that we at least know who we have to guard her against…"

Martin had gotten an odd look on his face, as if debating with himself, then said, "Well, we have some idea of who was involved in the kidnapping, at least. John Gabriel, the CEO of Hanover Norton Trust--"

"The employer for Gregory Pope, the man in the police artist's sketch!" Matt had interrupted excitedly. "I was right!"

"Yeah, yeah, your tip panned out. Turned out that Gabriel, through a series of shell corporations, owned the building that they discovered she'd been held captive in. The police got a warrant against him and cracked open his mansion on Staten Island three days ago, but they found him already dead, shot through the heart less than an hour before they got there."

"Suicide, or somebody else?"

"Somebody else… and here's the interesting part; the gun was left at the scene, prints wiped off. And the weapon was registered to our Sleeping Beauty," as Martin had jerked a thumb at the bed where she lay sedated.

"Probably vigilante justice from a friend of hers… but for it to happen between the police getting the word and getting a warrant, they probably had a tip from someone on the force," Matt had mused. "The local Internal Affairs is going to have a… wait a minute. Did you say this happened three days ago?"

"Yes."

"Then why are we still here?" Matt had protested. "If the threat to her is over…"

"Because the case is far from closed yet!" Martin had snarled. "The locals found a crib inside the mansion, but no baby in it! They also found a steel cage big enough to hold a man, that had been pulled apart from the inside by somebody pretty goddamn strong… and more men ripped to pieces like the DA a few weeks back! There are way, way too many loose ends for this case to be closed yet, and for all we know, whoever shot Gabriel to keep him from talking or whatever beastie that pulled the DA apart like a stewed chicken, is still looking to kill her too! I know you're eager to get back to the work we've been trained to do; so am I. But until we hear otherwise from our superiors, we stay here and keep an eye on her. Capische?"

Matt had reluctantly nodded, before leaving to get some rest before resuming his shift the next day. When he came in the next morning, Martin was looking decidedly frustrated. "You sure she was talking and making references to her captivity? Because when the sedative wore off and I tried to talk to her, I got no response at all; it was almost like she'd slipped back into a coma again."

Matt had assured him she had indeed been responsive, and worried that she had indeed slipped back into a full coma; she'd spent most of the day lying so still on the bed… But then he'd stepped out to grab a quick snack from a nearby vending machine. And when he'd come back in, the bed had been empty, and there'd been a banging sound coming from the bathroom. He'd dashed in there to find the woman on the floor next to the sink, and grimly banging away on the sink's drainpipe with her bedpan.

He'd gently scolded her for worrying him, as he'd tried to tug her away from the pipes and back to her bed. But she'd actually snarled at him, baring her teeth like a wild animal, as she'd continued banging on the pipe faster and faster, in an oddly syncopated rhythm that sounded like some sort of code. He'd finally gone back out to the nurse's station to have them administer another sedative, and the nurse doing so had almost been bitten before jabbing the needle home.

She hadn't stirred for the rest of that shift, and Matt had worried aloud to Martin at shift change that maybe something in her brain had been permanently unhinged by her experience; that she'd never be a fully functional person again. Martin had just shrugged, before sending him back to their hotel room to get some sleep.

The next morning, Martin had reported with a frustrated look that once again, she'd been utterly unresponsive all night long, just lying there as if she was still in a coma. But during the day, she had been definitely at least partially aware of her surroundings; Matt had often sensed that she was looking at him from beneath partially-closed eyelids. It had become obvious that despite all Matt's spoken reassurances, she didn't trust either him or his partner, not enough to give any further signs of life and returning functionality.

Playing a hunch, Matt had deliberately stepped out of the room for a few minutes, announcing that he was hungry. But he'd stopped four feet away from the closed door, and waited… and sure enough, not thirty seconds after he'd walked out he'd heard her clumsily making her way to the bathroom again. He'd let her bang on the plumbing for a good couple of minutes, while making frantic annotations on a piece of paper; trying to record the rhythms of the banging and determine if the racket she was making was actually a form of communication, like Morse code. Only after recording a few minutes' worth of bangs and taps in the form of dashes and dots did he go back inside and gently pry her away from the plumbing, to send her back to bed.

When Martin had come in that night, Matt had held back the information about the latest banging incident. He'd wanted to study what he'd written down and see if he could determine a message, before Martin could derisively tell him that he was seeing patterns that weren't there, as happened so often when Matt was hunting for evidence of the Illuminati. But back in the hotel room, he'd studied what he'd written for a few hours before finally admitting he needed more samples of the code in order to break it, and putting the paper aside to get some sleep.

That sleep had been rudely disturbed, at about 3 a.m. Matt had received the phone call, and rushed down to the hospital to find Martin bleeding and being looked over by a nurse, and the woman nowhere to be found. Holding a bandage to his bleeding head, Martin had angrily explained, "Someone broke the window and lobbed a freakin' smoke grenade into the room, then came in, knocked me unconscious and grabbed our patient!"

A search had already been called out, but the woman and her unknown abductor were nowhere to be found. There were questions aplenty as to how someone had climbed up the outside of the building a full four stories to get to the hospital room, and who had made the definitely nonstandard, homemade smoke grenade… but no answers had been forthcoming. A few days later, utterly stymied, Matt and Martin had finally returned to their regular duties.

"…and that's the last that I ever saw or heard of her… until today," Matt finished, staring out the window of Xanatos' office at the skyline. "Today, on my way here, I--"

"Stop."

Matt paused, startled by the interruption, and looked over at Xanatos to see him with his hand out and palm facing him like a traffic cop halting a vehicle, and his face unusually grim.

Xanatos said, "I don't want to hear any more about this woman; not where you saw her, or who she was with, or anything that might help to find her. Because you're right, the Illuminati are very interested in her… or rather, in what she had in her possession before she was kidnapped."

"And what did she have?" Matt asked.

"A certain little black book… John Gabriel was indeed a member of the Illuminati. In particular, he was a member of a particular sect of the Illuminati that calls itself the Veritas."

"The truth," Matt translated from his meager knowledge of Latin.

"And the truth these people believe in is that all men are rotten at their cores, and that the Illuminati are destined to rule over the common masses, by being nastier than the average man could ever dream of. You may not think much of Mace Malone, or myself for that matter, but we're like that cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake when compared to the sort of man John Gabriel was. He inherited his Illuminati and Veritas membership from his father… after killing him with his own bare hands. And rumor had it that was hardly his first killing, not even his fiftieth…"

Then Xanatos told the tale of how, back in early 1988, the Illuminati had inducted a new member; a lawyer named Patrick Hanlin. Hanlin had been the favorite nephew of another Illuminati member, and when that member had died the Illuminati had honored his request and discreetly tested the young man to see if he was worthy of membership. Once they were satisfied that he was indeed worthy, a contact was chosen to reveal the organization to him and invite him to join.

At first Hanlin had been a fine neophyte member; the contacts he had developed as a lawyer served him well when carrying out tasks for the Illuminati, and the organization in turn had helped him climb much higher in the general population's social structure. But during a meeting about eight months after he'd joined, he'd mentioned a particular book that he'd read about Alexander the Great. A book that John Gabriel had also read and enjoyed, and that had been basis enough for him to strike up a conversation with the neophyte. And for some strange reason, Gabriel had decided to take Hanlin under his wing and show him how the Veritas sect conducted their business…

Hanlin had been horrified by what he'd learned from Gabriel, and from another local member almost as bad named Malloy Davidson. But instead of merely distancing himself from the Veritas, as most moderate-inclined Illuminati members did, he'd apparently decided it was his duty to Humanity to somehow stop them.

Hanlin had put together a little black book full of information, about the Illuminati in general and the Veritas sect in particular. He'd named names, and the various criminal activities those people were involved in, and occasionally even where the evidence of those activities could be unearthed. He'd put all his information into a code, so it wouldn't be immediately apparent what he was writing about if the wrong people found it. He'd compiled the book, then prepared to leave the country with his family and hide somewhere overseas, somewhere he thought they'd be safe while he exposed the Illuminati. But an organization that has survived largely undetected for centuries has ways of determining when their secrets are about to be exposed…

Hanlin had been killed by a car bomb before he could flee the country. But the little black book had not been found in the wreckage of the car, or his personal belongings. Word had been spread through the Illuminati organization, which included Xanatos by then, to be on the lookout for a black book filled with code and to 'detain' whoever had it in their possession. Then two days after Hanlin's death, the local district attorney had contacted Gabriel—who had essentially bought the D.A.s' soul several years ago, by supplying the goods that satisfied his pedophilic desires—with news that one of his attorneys was in the hospital after being wounded in a car bomb explosion, and that another one, junior to the injured man, had received from him a little black book filled with code. That assistant had told Moreno that she'd been working on deciphering it, but hadn't gotten much farther than identifying the phrases for 'Malloy Davidson' and 'Hanover Norton Trust'—the consortium that Gabriel controlled.

Gabriel had given orders that the woman and the book were to be acquired immediately. The D.A. had initially balked, but finally done his master's bidding and arranged for the woman's capture and kidnapping from the parking garage where they worked. Unfortunately, the book hadn't been on her at the time, and she'd refused to say what she'd done with it…

"Past that point, I'm not sure about just what happened," Xanatos continued. "I do know that the Grandmaster himself expressed concern about finding that book; no one knew exactly what information it contained or how much damage it could do. But about three days after taking her captive, Gabriel suddenly announced he was no longer going to torture his captive with drugs or beatings to get her to give up the book; he had other interests in her instead. Some of us wondered if he had some idea of making her his mistress… which would probably have shortened her life expectancy even more than the torture. But Gabriel made it clear that from that point on, the woman was his concern alone. The only one who could have forced him to capitulate and continue the interrogation was the Grandmaster, and he chose not to, so no one said a word. Then a few months later, a visitor to Gabriel's' home observed his captive on the monitor, and saw that she was heavily pregnant…

"When asked about it, Gabriel said that he intended to make the child she carried his own heir. And I happened to be there at the meeting that Gabriel did not attend, when the matter was discussed among other members. It was clear that Gabriel had become obsessed about that child for some reason, enough that he'd chosen to give the unborn child a higher priority than the still-missing code book. But no one doubted that once that child was delivered, the woman would die. It was already well-known among the higher-ups, and no surprise to us lower echelon members, that Gabriel had long since made a habit of killing all his sexual conquests within 24 hours of bedding them. It was presumed that the woman would be treated the same way, once she'd provided the service of carrying the child to term. But the Grandmaster still preferred to get his hands on that missing black book, if at all possible. At the meeting, it was decided that Gabriel's personal doctor would be discreetly contacted, and given Pulmozine to inject the woman with once Gabriel took the baby from her. There was a decent chance that the woman would be capable of being revived after her seeming death, and then other, less psychotically obsessed members of the Illuminati could question her at their leisure."

"Which is where Martin and I came in," Matt said with an ugly scowl. "That's why we were sent up to that hospital… it wasn't the FBI that wanted us there, but the Illuminati! Martin was chosen to be the one to interrogate her, wasn't he? And since he had a genuine FBI badge, she'd be apt to trust him…"

"As I understand it, that was the plan. Which got thrown for a loop for a day after the baby was born; nobody expected the body to disappear from the building she'd 'died' in, and appear in her own apartment building the next morning—and before you ask, so far as I know they still don't know how that was done. But the doctor had called the hospitals the night before; one may presume that he had a guilty conscience over standing by while she was initially tortured, then kept captive, and was hoping that the legitimate authorities would find and revive her first. Whatever the reason, she was given the antidote shot in the hospital, but the Illuminati still took over her care thanks to Martin's badge and authority, and the Illuminati's hold over the FBI director to ensure that Martin and you were the ones assigned to watch over her."

"And he probably wanted me to come along and watch over her, just so I wouldn't have the time to dig into the investigation on my own," Matt said, his face bleak. "I'd already come across the name of Hanover Norton Trust in my research into the Illuminati, and Martin admitted to me last year that he'd had orders to frustrate my investigation wherever and whenever he could…"

"Wouldn't surprise me," Xanatos commented.

"And Martin probably had orders to arrange her real death, once he'd gotten the location of the black book out of her, didn't he?" At Xanatos' silent nod, he continued, "But somebody broke into the hospital and got her out… Who did it, and what did they want her for?"

"Nobody knows! Believe me, a lot of people were asking that question for a while afterwards. But after a few months of no sudden and damaging disclosures, people stopped looking quite so hard for her, and after a year or so the search was suspended entirely. But if she's officially noticed again, the search may well resume; John Gabriel may be dead now, but Malloy Davidson and other Veritas members are still alive and well… and interested in seeing her dead and gone. So if you actually give a damn about her, you'll forget you ever saw her today, or that we had this conversation; I certainly intend to."

Matt shook his head in frustration. "But I can't just forget… dammit, I have to find out! What happened to Catherine Chandler? And her baby!"

"Whatever happened, if you saw her today, she's not dead. And presumably the baby isn't either. If you're smart, you'll be satisfied with that…"

THE END… for now

Author's note: If you haven't figured out by now what series I'm doing an ongoing crossover with, here are a couple more hints:

Just like Gargoyles, this television show ran for three seasons, but the third season was a disaster and most fans would prefer to ignore it and concentrate on the first two. (For the purposes of this crossover, though, I incorporated the third season and went beyond it, to not only fix what went dreadfully wrong but tidy up several loose ends.)

Just like Gargoyles, this show also featured crimefighting and a love story between two very different people, though the emphasis was more on the love story than the crimefighting.

If that's not enough to ring any bells for you, just do an online search with your favorite search engine, with the exact phrase "Catherine Chandler" and the added word "television". Shouldn't take you long to figure it out… Go ahead, I'll just wait right here…

Final Author's note: Don't go checking your local pharmacy for bottles of Pulmozine. That name was lifted from a Star Trek episode, okay? Whatever drug the old voodoo houngans and mambas actually used to make their zombies is lost to the annals of modern medicine… and good riddance to it, too.