NOTE: I could not resist typing this chapter. Seriously. No wait! For cereal. The update's been…tedious. Anyway. Here's the next chapter! It involves quite the digression. Enjoy!
With the pensions that Graff had procured for the Jeesh, they could afford to go anywhere. On the plane ride, Alice and Lex decided to lay low. Finesse would be needed for a while. One, maybe two bags; no ritzy hotels; pay cash for everything. And above all, don't stay in one place for too long.
The fact that their faces, Alice's in particular, were so recognizable didn't help in the slightest. They couldn't talk to their parents at all, but as March faded into April, Linda's due date was fast approaching.
They chose to go to Rome first. Lex chose the location. They ate dinner in a shabby café across the street from the Flavian Amphitheatre, more commonly known as the Coliseum. When they went back to their hotel, the checked their desks for any messages.
Alice sat down. The light at the corner of her desk and a beep told her that there was a message. She scanned it once and read it aloud, albeit softly, to Lex.
I got your contact information from a mutual friend. I'm sure you know who I mean.
I…really miss you. (Oh lord that sounded terrible, but you know me. I'm not good with words…)
I'm on the run. I won't tell you where. I have no idea where you are and I think that's a great thing. But I do know who you're traveling with. Someone's with me- someone who misses your companion very much.
We need to talk. Face to face. Meet me in Paris tomorrow in front of the Louvre. Four pm. Right in front of the entrance. Make sure you two aren't followed.
"A-are you sure?" Lex asked, her voice quivering.
"If our Greek friend can write to me from this address, then he must already rule the world," said Alice. "We're going."
They landed in Paris the next day exhausted. Even though it was only an hour and a half long flight, the jet lag was debilitating. In spite of that, adrenaline kept them awake. They bought trench coats and took a taxi to the Louvre, its pyramidal structure gleaming in the mist.
They stood of to the right, hair tied back into ponytails. Seeing a bench, they sat down. It was just before they were due to meet Dink and his companion- 3:56pm. Alice glanced nervously at her watch.
"They'll be here. Don't worry," said Lex.
Alice glanced at her. "But what if that wasn't him?"
"You didn't respond to the email, right?" asked Lex.
"No; you know I never do that," said Alice. "What if the email wasn't really from him?"
"He'll be here," insisted Lex.
Alice glanced at her watch again. "3:59, Lex."
Lex put a hand on Alice's shoulder. They were quiet for a time. "Who is Dink traveling with?"
"He didn't say."
"I hope so."
"Well, you're not alone."
Alice checked her watch again. 4:01pm. Someone tapped her shoulder. She sprang up and turned around, readying herself for a fight. It was Dink. He opened his arms.
Alice emitted an uncharacteristic squeal. She jumped on top of the bench and tackled Dink to the ground.
"I missed you too, Alice." Still on the ground, Dink held her tightly.
Only then did Lex realize that Dink's companion was Wabe. Lex ran around the bench and held him tightly.
And so they remained.
Reluctant to relinquish his hold on her, Wabe spoke from where he was. "We may be followed. We should leave."
From the ground, Alice agreed. "Where to?"
Lex sighed contentedly. "Anywhere…"
"Well, we could go inside the Louvre," said Dink.
"Why not?" Reluctantly, Alice stood up. She pulled Dink up with her. "We can't stay too long though."
"It would be nice to see the art. Especially the Mona Lisa," said Lex.
Wabe recoiled slightly in surprise. "Since when have you cared about art?"
"Not art, culture. I'd like to see something other than fighting or bloodshed for once," said Lex firmly.
They left the museum, and climbed into another taxi just outside the Louvre. The cab driver gave Alice a bad feeling, but she dismissed it. They drove off. After a while, Alice looked behind them. There was a car that had been following them for quite some time now. It was unmarked, a regular car. But the driver looked official, like he meant business.
Troubled, Alice faced the front as the cab turned into an alleyway. Alice pushed Dink down (Wabe and Lex went down with him) and yelled "Duck!" just as she reached out to grab the cabby's gun. "Don't move!" He eyes didn't leave the cabby even as she turned her head. "Lex, is there a car behind us?"
Lex turned around. "Yeah. Why?"
"Is he stopped?"
"He's getting out! Alice, who is he?"
"I don't know, but he might be friendly."
The man came up to the window. "Are you four all right?"
"Yes. Now who are you?" asked Alice, gun still trained on the cabby.
"One who would help," said the man. "Move aside and get out of the car." They did, figuring that since he wasn't trying to kill them, they could trust him for the time being. "Plug your ears." After making sure that they had, he calmly put his pistol up to the cabby's temple and shot. Alice heard it, but it didn't hurt her ability to hear, like it had when Lieutenant McCray shot the man in front of her. "Get in the car," said the man.
Alice crossed her arms. "Not until you tell us who you are!" The rest of the group nodded their concurrence.
The man sighed exasperatedly. "I'll tell you later! Let's go!" He gestured at the car urgently. "There are people after you!"
"Sold," said Dink as he pulled Alice into the car by the wrist.
Though everyone had misgivings, this man was certainly better than a cabby who was about to shoot them all. They crammed together in the back seat.
"Ok, now let's have answers! For starters, who are you? Who do you work for? And where are you taking us?" Alice crossed her arms and did her best to look pissed off and menacing.
"I won't tell you anything yet. You'll have to wait until we get on the jet in case this mission is compromised." Now that they had heard him speak at length, they could hear a slight accent, though they couldn't place it.
"So we're just supposed to trust you blindly," said Alice with disdain. It wasn't a question.
The man sighed. "I really will tell you everything as soon as we're on the jet."
And there was silence in the car until the car pulled directly onto Charles De Gaulle International Airport's runway. The car drove over to a sleek, unmarked jet. There were uniformed men and women bustling about, scrupulously making sure that they didn't look at the group.
They finally boarded the plane and the man ushered them in. He sat down and motioned for the others to do the same. Alice, Lex, Dink and Wabe sat down on a row of seats in front of him.
The inside of the jet was immaculate. It had two couches facing each other, where the five of them now sat. Towards the cockpit, there was a bathroom and a kitchenette. Next to the couches, there were two rows of seats, each with a table in between them.
"If you tell us that you still won't tell us anything, I will shoot you," said Alice, keeping a firm hold on the dead cabby's pistol.
The man laughed slightly. "I will, but you'll have to wait until we take off."
Alice glared at him. "No. We want answers now."
Surprisingly, the man didn't argue. He held up his hands in surrender. "All right! I'll tell you!"
Good choice, thought Alice.
The plane began to move.
"My name is Sir Michael Pennington. I work for her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth XV," said Michael. "I was sent by the queen to take you to London. Now, I believe I've answered three of your questions."
Their nostrils flared.
"What?" Alice raised the gun slightly. "You take us home. Now."
He laughed. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't do that." The plane gained altitude.
"Do you know where my parents are?" Lex glared at Michael. "Well? Do you?"
"They are safe in London," said Michael with a smirk.
"I don't buy it." Lex walked straight up to Michael where he sat and stared him down. She didn't even flinch as Michael pulled out his pistol and stood up.
"Sit down," ordered Michael.
Lex glared at him again. "Bastard."
Michael sneered. He pistol whipped Lex so hard that she fell to the floor, unconscious. He glared at the rest of them. "Unless you want to end up like this one," he said gesturing to Lex with the gun, "then I suggest that you all come quietly. We'll soon be in London."
They picked up Lex's limp form and laid her down on the couch, her head in Wabe's lap. Alice and Dink went to the chairs directly behind her. Michael walked over to Alice and took the gun from her.
The rest of the flight passed without incident.
Lex woke up a few minutes later as they started their decent into London. They were immediately taken to The Compound, London's new military headquarters, located just outside the city limits. As they drove up to The Compound, Alice remarked with mirth, "Well, this is bleak."
Dink, Wabe and Lex all gave weak laughs.
Michael led them straight to the administration building. He took them through several corridors and up a few flights of stairs. He made a right and saw their destination ahead—the General's conference room. Michael knocked. Without waiting for an answer, he opened the door.
There was a war council going on. The general was standing over a map of the world, palms outstretched; he was surrounded by his lieutenants. The man looked older- he was probably about forty five years old, Alice guessed. His hair was fiery red, his skin pale, eyes a dark shade of brown. He looked over. "Ahh, Michael, my good man." He strode over to the five of them. "I take it these are the four I asked for- Momette, Meeker and the Princes."
"Yes, sir," said Michael.
"You are dismissed, Pennington."
"Now you four. You are to be Chief Strategists for Great Britain," said the general with an arrogant smile.
Dink crossed his arms and leaned on one foot. "And just why would we?"
"Leverage." He gestured with his left hand. "Take a look at the screen, if you would."
They looked. A frightening images met their eyes- a cell. There were four people inside. Linda and Marty Prince, and Hugo and Payton Meeker. Linda apparently hadn't had the twins yet, but they due date had to be soon- her belly was enormous!
"You can't do this!" yelled Wabe.
The general sneered. "I can and I will."
NOTE: Ooooooh! Evil British spies! Not the typical portrayal of the British spies, huh? It's a brilliant power play.