Amanda was crying like a child. She was strapped to a chair, her arms chained tightly to a restraint. There was no other sound except for her crying, then the buzzing sound returned, and she screamed even before the needle touched her skin. Another line of her tattoo was being applied. The needle continued to draw the line for a minute, and the pain increased to the point where she screamed, "Make it stop!"
Marisa chided her, "It's only a little pain! There's so much more to do as well." She chuckled. "If only you could see this... This one is you getting reamed by a big black stud!"
That was the first of many tattoos that Marisa planned for Amanda. All of them would be lifelike images of Amanda in many erotic and embarrassing situations, most of which she might have the capacity to imagine, but would most likely never wish to be caught doing, or have them done to her, period. These tattoos would show the things about which most sane women never fantasized.
Amanda howled as yet another line was drawn.
"You know, this goes in three stages. First the outline, then the shading, and then the coloring. It might take me a few days or even a few weeks to finish all this." She stopped, "Now don't squirm! If you make me slip, I'll have to remove the whole tattoo and start from scratch. Now you wouldn't want that, would you? Good. I thought so."
* * *
Jim staggered in to the Captain's office only a minute after Sandburg got there. They were the only ones there, and Jim had arrived before Sandburg could start his rounds of inquiry.
"Jim! What happened to you? You look like hell."
Jim slumped into an empty chair, thankfully the luxury kind that cost at least half a month's paycheck. "Thanks... An informant gave me some information about our kidnapper, and stun-gunned me as thanks for showing up." His head fell into his hands, "God, I need a beer!"
Banks smiled, "Take me with you."
Sandburg was ecstatic. "What did you get?"
"Not much. Just three sheets of paper. One is a fax of a photo: that woman who got away lighting a candle in some church. What church it was, I don't know. One is 'Remember the Council of Blood,' written by a word processor. The third is another printout that says, 'White is the color of death.'"
Sandburg was pacing back and forth. "Council of Blood! Why the hell is that so familiar? It rings an air raid siren in my head! But white being the color of death, that's true in the Chinese culture. They wear white to funerals..."
Banks was beginning to nod. "That might make some sense. The fax could be of this woman remembering the death of someone. I'm not Catholic myself, but I hear some Catholics do that. Light candles in churches, I mean."
"Not just Catholics," smiled Sandburg.
"OK," muttered Jim. "So this kidnapper thinks that Amanda is linked to someone who died, and wants her to die because of it. That would certainly work well with motive, but what the hell does this tell us?"
"It tells us to look it up?" smiled Sandburg. Now he was back in familiar territory.
The Cascade Police Department, just like any other station, did not have anything resembling an encyclopedia. However, there was a city library just down the street that had a multimedia computer. Sandburg triumphantly introduced the capabilities of the electronic encyclopedia.
"Let's see..." he thought aloud. "Let's see what we get when we ask about the Council of Blood..."
The result was:
Political Events, 1568
Leaders of the Flemish opposition to the Spanish Inquisition are
beheaded as traitors at Brussels June 4, and the action
precipitates a revolt of the Lowlands that will continue for 80
years. The Comte d'Egmont, the Comte d'Horn, and 18 others are
executed, and there is a general confiscation of the estates of
those who have failed to appear before the Council of Blood,
including Willem of Orange, who has left Holland with thousands
of Netherlanders (see Goethe, 1796).
Jim protested, "But that happened back in 1568!"
"There aren't any other entries, Jim. Maybe we're dealing with descendants who have long memories?"
To Jim's surprise, Banks nodded, "That sounds very reasonable. Let's see what the link says."
The link said:
Theater and Film, 1796
Theater: Egmont by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 3/31 at Weimar's
"Who is 'Egmont'?" asked Jim.
"Sounds familiar..." muttered Sandburg. He had to manually search for that name, as there was no link.
Egmont, Comte Lamoral d'
Flemish general and politician who refused to join William of
Orange in a plan to overthrow Philip II of Spain but was beheaded
nonetheless, precipitating a Flemish revolt against Spanish rule.
Egmont, Lamoral, Comte d' (1522-1568), Flemish general and
statesman, who was executed by the Spanish. Egmont was born in
Hainaut (now in Belgium). As a general of the Hapsburg emperor
Charles V, he won victories over the French that made him a
popular hero. He was appointed governor of Flanders and Artois by
Charles's son, Philip II, king of Spain. Egmont protested against
the infringement of Flemish liberties and the introduction of the
Inquisition into the Netherlands; but when insurrections arose,
Egmont supported Philip. When Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of
Alva, arrived in 1567 to restore order in the country, Egmont was
imprisoned, condemned to death, and beheaded.
It was Jim who spoke this time. "Wait a minute. 'White is the color of death.' Some Spanish speakers pronounce 'alba' like 'alva', and that's the word for white. Hit that link."
Alva, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of
Alva, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of (1507-1582), Spanish
general known for his cruelty in repressing the Dutch revolt
against Spain. Alva rose to prominence as commander of the armies
of Charles V, a Holy Roman emperor. He gained a brilliant victory
for Charles over Elector John Frederick of Saxony at Molberg in
1547. In Charles's Italian campaign against the French and papal
forces, Alva overran the Papal States, but after the abdication
of Charles V, Philip II, king of Spain, relinquished them. Alva
was appointed captain general of the Netherlands in 1567, with
authority to repress the Dutch revolt against Spain. He set up a
tribunal, known as the Blood Council, which condemned and
executed some 18,000 people and confiscated their property. Among
the victims was the Flemish statesman Lamoral Egmont. Alva's
troops defeated the Flemish forces and, on December 22, 1568,
entered Brussels. His tyranny intensified Dutch resistance, and
he was recalled in 1573. In 1580 King Philip dispatched Alva to
conquer Portugal, a task he accomplished with characteristic
Jim was getting a headache, "This is crazy. It has to mean something else. I mean, who would carry a grudge this old except for a lunatic?"
It was Banks who answered. "A crazy lunatic. When I was in South Africa, I came across a village that was at war with another village because some guy over a hundred years ago stole a goat. The whole village remembered the event and felt it like it was yesterday. This is just as crazy."
Jim shook his head. "You should be the one saying that this would never fly in court. Besides, it doesn't tell us who the hell we should be arresting, or even where we should look next."
Banks grimaced. "Maybe... Maybe not."
* * *
In another part of the city, Harlowe drank alone. A different place this time. More of a dive, but a dive that served civilized ales and whiskeys. The India Pale Ale, brewed by a Yakima company, was nothing close to the pale ale that he had as a soldier of the crown, but it was drinkable ale.
Harlowe looked over the city that he had once thought was the wonder of the Orient. Now, it was a slum full of death, decay, and the wretched. It almost resembled Dante's Inferno, but he had a sinking suspicion that it would be characterized more truly as Paradise without the mask. "Major Sharpe. I need to leave this place."
Sharpe nodded. "Just as you have woken from death to a new kind of life, your awareness also changes. You've grown up, in a fashion."
"If you call it that. It is a change nonetheless. A change I don't like."
He grimaced. "That's one harsh reality that you'll have to face sooner or later. The mortals have the luxury of growing used to something, but we don't. For some reason or another, what we call home or haven will rot and sour into something that causes us pain. It could be the mere passage of time, the death of a loving wife, or an unavoidable conflict that we must sometimes encounter."
Harlowe laughed sardonically. "No lady would go so far as to look at me!"
Sharpe laughed as well, "My friend, you're going to find yourself eating those words, and yet wish they were true!"
There was silence for a few moments. "Sharpe? How long have you been alive?"
"I don't know, but I know that I was perhaps thirty years of age when I died at Waterloo."
Harlowe was impressed. "You're old!"
Sharpe laughed, "You've yet to meet the rest of our kind! Those who don't seek your head at first sight, in any event. There are those with the faces of young boys and girls who faced their first deaths thousands of years ago. Not too many of the old ones still live. There are rumors of a man called Methos, who is said to have lived before the Pyramids of Egypt, but that is only a myth."
There was silence again. "How do you survive?"
"By keeping my wits about me and a sharp blade at my side."
He shook his head. "I must dare say that when I lay dead, I enjoyed the sensation. Returning to life was not fun."
Sharpe nodded in sympathy. "We all feel that sensation once or twice, just as we feel other emotions. You're just in a mood, that's all. It'll pass, just as any other mood passes."
"But it never passed, Sharpe..."
The word was that Sharpe had died in Paris, chained next to the infamous Duncan MacLeod. Encountering MacLeod was something worth remembering...
The Inspector entered the gambling hall, sniffing in distaste. The place was filled with the most roguish manner of students with money to spend and rich parents to protect them by contributing to the new additions to Scotland Yard.
He also sensed an immortal here. ("Fee fie fo fum... I smell the blood of an Englishman...")
The other immortal locked eyes with him. A Scot, if Harlowe read the man's face correctly. He'd keep an eye on that man in the side of his eye, but at the moment, his attention was better spent elsewhere.
"I am Inspector Martin Harlowe, and looking for one Mr. James Brookbridge. Is Mr. Brookbridge here?"
"What if he is?" shouted one rude youngster.
He cleared his throat. "I am here to arrest him for the theft of an elderly lady's purse and recover the stolen property."
The kid ran away, but surprisingly enough, the Scot tripped him in an almost accidental manner, "Quite sorry. A most unfortunate accident."
The kid was spitting and cursing as the Inspector put him in handcuffs and pulled him to his feet.
For a moment, the Inspector paused. "May I have your name, sir?"
The Scot bowed his head slightly, "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." At that moment, he seemed less like a young gambler, and more like a man of the world, though his face only showed twenty years.
Then again, Harlowe was old enough to be more than a grandfather of more than most of these kids around here, though he was a young man by most accounts. "Inspector Martin Harlowe, at your service. You just rid London of one more criminal."
MacLeod raised his eyebrows slightly.
Harlowe was offended. "Sir, just as in all things, crime starts very small."
MacLeod looked thoughtful as the Inspector left.
It would be a few years later when Harlowe would hear about some beheadings that happened during the time of MacLeod's presence, and it didn't take much effort to add two numbers. After an initial scan of the murdered men's profiles, he decided not to formally investigate MacLeod. Those men were genuine scum by any account, and would most likely have been immune to mortal justice.
There are times when immortal justice must prevail.
He was contemplating this just as he took the jet from London to Cascade. If the kidnappers had not taken Amanda, she might not have reached London unless she had produced the watch. Even then, she would have suffered for many years.
* * * *
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