Author's Notes: This is Walt Disney's Zorro with a special woman who I feel was one of the only women to not scorn Diego for being not a man of action, Moneta Esperon. She appeared toward the end of season two.
Summary: The famous gang, The Coyotes, decide to capture El Zorro and claim the reward money. When captured, Zorro is temporarily blinded and must rely on the help of the other captive, Senorita Moneta Esperon.
Chapter 1: The Trap
A coyote howled. Desert creatures scurried through the brushes, running from the flickering light of the campfire which was surrounded by twelve rugged men.
A man with a scar on his cheek and a high pitched voice asked, "So Tolenda, what is next in store for us?"
"Si, I am tired of riding. I want some excitement!"
Juan Tolenda the leader of the gang, with a wicked smile and dusty lines creasing his eyes explained excitedly, "Los Angeles, Senores. I know just how to get ourselves a few thousand pesos."
A short man raised an eye brow, "How do we do that?"
An evil spark twinkled in Tolenda's eyes, "We capture their bandit El Zorro and claim the reward."
The men exchanged glances with one another. They all had heard of the man dressed in black who fought like the devil himself.
"He hasn't been caught in several years. How are we going to catch him?"
"I have a plan. We'll make it impossible for him to refuse coming after us and then we will take him."
They all leaned in again and listened to Tolenda's plan.
Los Angeles was just recovering from the death of Emissary Andres Felipe Basilio. His body had been taken back to Spain, along with Captain Mendoza, who was charged with killing him.
Sitting in the patio of the Esperon hacienda, Moneta spoke softly. "I never would wish death on someone, but I must say that Los Angeles has been more peaceful with the Emissary gone." She lowered her head, she felt so ashamed.
Don Diego shook his head, saying in a consoling voice, "Do not feel bad, Moneta. He was not governing our city with its best intentions and you are simply glad he is not treating the peons unjustly. I could never believe that you would wish someone dead, even him." Diego was the one who felt ashamed. He was relieved that Basilio had met his end. Basilio had discovered Diego's identity as Zorro and surely would have hung Diego.
Diego could remember last week as if it were yesterday. He slipped into the secret passage and was hit from behind. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor, stripped of his mask and cape with the secret door to his bedroom open. Bernardo came into the passage and closed the door just as soldiers stormed the bedroom. Bernardo then helped Diego stand and change. In a little while, he was supposed to ride in as Diego. It was difficult this time to play the no nonsense character. He had a splitting headache which affected his coordination and balance. But when he did ride in, he learned that Basilio was killed dressed as Zorro. He concluded who hit him and who found out about Zorro.
Now a week later, his head was feeling better and so was Los Angeles. Everyone was relieved that peace had returned to their fair city and the fumbling Sergeant Garcia had resumed duty as acting Commandante. Garcia loved the people just as much as Zorro and would do anything to ensure peace.
Little did Diego know that that night, once again their peace would be intruded upon and he would have the most dangerous mission he had ever had: one that would not just jeopardize his but also Moneta Esperon's life.
Don Cornelio Esperon and his daughter had dinner with the De la Vegas. Through the whole Basilio and Mendoza experience, the two families had bonded more than they had been before. As their pleasant evening was coming to an end, there was an urgent knock on the door.
Diego motioned for Bernardo to answer the door. Bernardo opened it to see Padre Felipe. The good Father entered quickly, his brow furrowed and frantic. The gentlemen rose.
"Padre, what a pleasant surprise," Don Alejandro welcomed.
"If only my visit was a pleasant one, Don Alejandro."
"What is it, Father?" Don Cornelio asked.
"A bunch of bandidos stormed the church and robbed the poor box, took the crown jewels, and the tithe box! Several of the Indians who tried to protect the church were injured."
"Are you all right!?" Diego quickly asked. He exchanged a quick glance with Bernardo who nodded then quietly left the room. He was given the silent order to ready his master's alter-ego.
"I am fine. The Indians were not badly hurt. But everything that the people of this city gave to the church in good faith is gone."
"Does the Sergeant know?" Don Alejandro questioned.
"Two of the Indians rode to the cuartel. After settling the Indians, I rode for the doctor but stopped here first."
"I will take you to the doctor's and help you with anything you need," Don Cornelio put his arm around the priest.
Alejandro glanced over at Diego and gave him a look. Diego nodded.
"In the meantime, Bernardo and I will take some supplies and ride out to the mission and see what we can do." Diego then turned to Moneta and kissed her hand, "Buena noches."
"Buena noches." Her smile was infectious and he could not help but linger for but a moment on her smile.
Diego then quickly left the sala and after shutting the door, he raced up to his bedroom.
Don Cornelio readied himself to take the Padre to the doctors. "Moneta, I want you to return home. You will be safe there and it will ease your father's mind," Don Cornelio stated.
Moneta was about to protest, but rather than waste time and argue, she consented and wrapped her shawl around her shoulders then headed for the buggy.
After they left, Alejandro went into the secret passage and found Bernardo folding the clothes Diego had just worn. "How long ago did he leave?"
Bernardo indicated five minutes ago.
"Let us hope he catches up to them and has a little help from the soldiers. I have faith in my son, but a whole gang is harder to capture even for the Fox."
Bernardo nodded in agreement.
"Come, let us prepare some supplies and see what we can do at the mission." Alejandro and Bernardo went down the stairs to the kitchen.
For an hour, the black rider tracked the bandidos. He could not count how many there were but knew there were many. He was going to have to be careful. He did notice though that they were rather easy to track.
He followed the tracks down a ravine then they became messy and several of them split. Something did not feel right.
Zorro looked up at the top of the ravine and saw a man with a floppy hat sitting on top a painted horse shaking bags of money.
"See! I told you – to capture a Fox, you have to set the perfect trap with the perfect bait!" Tolenda cackled wildly.
Zorro suddenly realized this was more than just about robbing the mission. It was a trap. Zorro spurred his horse to life, but several bandits blocked his escape. He retreated. Tornado was quickly ordered to run the opposite way only to be blocked again. Tornado started to slow down, but Zorro pressed his heels into the animal's sides, hoping to break through the hold. Tornado and Zorro were successful only to have the bandits on their tail.
They raced down the trail. Zorro constantly looked behind him to see the bandidos. They were inching farther behind. He turned forward and gasped. He saw a bandit appear ahead of him and throw a wad of dynamites in front of Tornado. Zorro pulled back on the reins and Tornado cried.
The dynamite exploded with a bright light, a thunderous uproar and a force strong enough to throw Zorro from his horse. Then all went black.