Part 11: Ghosts
A week had passed since the funeral and nothing had changed. There was still the solemn feeling, like we had lost a war. Murray was dead as well as John and me and Penelope, we lost a number of good friends. Murray had always been the gentle giant of the group with a big heart that could always light up a room with his silly demeanor, but now it was gone, and it left a huge hole in our lives. Sly and Bentley took Murrays loss horribly, as they didn't even want to discuss a new plan. In the heat of the moment, they trudged on through the pain, the guilt, but now it was swallowing them whole. We kept strong long enough to last through the funeral, but now that it was all over, we were broken. It killed me to see Sly especially like this, but what could I say? What could I do? Murray was his brother. He loved him. And I knew that if anything happened to Sly, I would be right where he was. I spoke more with Penelope and she felt the same as I did but for Bentley. He wasn't doing much better,
Sly occupied his mind by trying to fix more and more of the house. I helped him when I could but as we continued to build and repair the damages of the house, became prevalent that he was doing this to be alone, equally as much as he was to fix the house. But I stayed and helped him anyways. Every now and then he would shed tears for his lost friend, in which case I could walk him inside and we would share a few shots of whiskey and cuddle on the couch. It seemed to help him. Bentley occupied himself by dismantling the Time Machine. He blamed himself for Murrays eventual death more than anything else. He said that if it wasn't for the time machine, we would have never met John, and we would have never started this stupid war in the first place. All for a world that had hunted them for their entire adult lives. He didn't even wear his robot legs anymore, prefering to use his old wheelchair instead. Eventually, Bentley also dismantled all the older upgrades and equipment as welI, leaving it just an ordinary van with a neat paint job. I couldn't say I knew how they felt, as I had never lost a friend as close as Murray was to them. But their pain radiated off of them and I could feel their sorrow when they went through the notions every day. Before he went to sleep every night, Sly drank a glass of wine and stared up at the ceiling in bed.
Weeks, maybe even months had passed and we had completely cut ourselves off from the outside world. No TV, no radio, nothing. In a way, we just wanted to be left alone. After all, hadn't we lost enough? Our home, our friend, it was all gone. Now it was just the four of us. As time went on, we started to care less and less about the outside world. Now, we could care less if the Fangs took over the world. It was barely our concern anymore. We did our part and now Sly and Bentley were emotionally crippled. But on the upside, now we had more time to ourselves. We had no reason to be on the run anymore. We had a nice house with everything we could need in what was likely one of the safest places in the world now. Of course there was still the threat of an attack from the Fangs but in all honesty, the odds of that happening were slim now. It's been over a month since Denmark, and we never saw a single scout. Yes, we were missing some information and a cargo plane but really, why should we care? It's not like we were ever planning on using them again. Eventually, Sly came back around and started talking more. But one day he just seemed to wake up different. As though he flipped a switch in his head.
I was preparing breakfast and coffee one early morning in mid February. It was very cold outside and the steam from the bacon and eggs I was making rose up in subtle whisps to combat the chill. I was just finishing the bacon when Sly snuck up on me and hugged me from behind.
"Sly!" I exclaimed, catching my breath, "jeez you scared me."
"I know," he said softly over my shoulder, "just felt like starting today early."
"Well that's new," I joked. Lately he had been sleeping in till 10a.m., but now it was only 8, "So what brings you around at such an early hour?" I turned off the stove and turned in place to face him, still in his embrace, "is there something you want to talk about?"
"Oh it's just… I've been wondering about what Murray would have wanted for us," he looked endearingly into my eyes and I could see the softness in his smile, "You and me in particular."
I gently wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. "So what would he have wanted?" I asked curiously.
"Well... what if we never left here," he gestured out the newly replaced sliding glass door, "I mean, look at this place. It's beautiful." He was right, Recently the snow had started to melt and now all the lush green fields and vibrant flowers were coming back.
"It is," the thought of staying here in Idaho sounded too good to be true. But then again, why not? "Why on earth would we leave?"
"Exactly what I'm saying, but there's one other thing."
"Well you have my full attention," I pulled him a little closer.
He spoke a little softer now, "Bentley's still not out of the woods. But when he gets better, how's about we get married?"
I was speechless. It was such a change of tone. A change in character. I was struggling to fun the words to say.
He cutely cocked his head a little to one side, "Well?"
I must have sounded out of breath when I finally spoke. But then again, what was there to consider? He knew my answer, "Yes, of course." And I hugged him tightly, immediately cursing myself for not kissing him. I'm so glad that my Sly was back.
We headed out to China only a week later. And from there to Australia. There was some debate as to where we would go to get married. The obvious first choice would have been Paris but that clearly wasn't going to happen. The Panda King offered to have the ceremony in his village in China, but it was too high profile of an area and we still wanted to stay under the radar. The some problem went for Dimitris estate in Italy, not to mention that the european region was destabilizing after the fall of France. So we settled on the Outback. It wasn't glamorous, but it was remote, safe, and frankly had a breathtaking sunrise and sunset. The Guru was more than happy to host us and provided various Australian delicacies to the best of his abilities. Unfortunately I had never heard of the majority of them and some looked like they were from an alien planet. Thankfully Dimitri and the King family brought some food as well. Dimitri helped fund the whole ordeal and the Guru was our priest. At sunset, on the day after Valentines Day, we were married before all Sly's friends and teammates. Only if I could understand the Guru. But at least he was good with hand gestures.
After the ceremony we had dinner and a reception. Many stories were told that night that I hadn't known. Like how he stole a cookie jar from the orphanage, or how Sly was a freaking pirate. And I never would have thought that he would have been able to tame a giant sea creature. I was still getting over the fact that he did all of this but still had no idea of how to to swim. It was nice, thinking that we had finally made it.
Later that night, after the wedding was over and everyone else was asleep, me and Sly were still awake. Alone by a fire up on a ledge overlooking the great black expanse that was the Outback. It was like we were teenagers, sneaking out just to steal a few more hours together only to get into trouble. It was more than great. It was beautiful. But there were still things on our minds.
"So what are we going to do now?" I was leaning on his chest and Sly was sitting on the ground leaning against a log facing the fire. He was brushing his fingers through my hair as we talked and laughed.
"Well now that you've finally caught me…," I hit him playfully in the chest and he chuckled at his own joke. "Aw come on, you did still catch me."
"You're damn right I did Cooper. I always catch my thief," I looked up to see that big cocky grin that he always has when he's having fun.
"And now that I'm being formally interrogated, I think I'm going to try and fight a dragon."
"No. No you're not" he started to break out laughing, "Oh my god, what did I get myself into," Letting my head come back down to his warm chest, chuckling as well. The strange thing about Australia is, although it's only barely leaving winter in Idaho, it was rather warm here. So we changed out of our clothes and into something much more relaxed. So we took the first chance we got to change out of our dress clothes and into something more relaxed. I was in a jeans and white T-shirt and Sly had tan cargo pants and a green T-shirt. Like a scene from out of a romantic teenager movie, "So really, now that we're married, what do you want to do?"
"I can't say I haven't thought about it," he said, calming down now, "but in the world we live in now, there's so much we can't do anymore but so much we can at the same time."
"What do you mean?" I wondered out loud, fixated on the fire.
"Well, we could just pick up roots and keep moving around. We could see the world all over again."
"But we've been around the world already," I sat up again and sat criss crossed in front of him, "I don't see the point of doing it again. And you said it yourself, in the world we live in now, there are some things we just can't do anymore."
He nodded in understanding, never letting his eyes leave mine. "Then what if we never left Idaho then? If you think about it we really have all we'd ever need there. We have food and water, I'm sure if we went far enough in some direction we would find a few neighbors. And we'd have each other."
"Yes we would," I looked over the log he was leaned against to see the faintest bit of sunlight coming over the horizon, signalling the start of a new day. Maybe it was a poetic sign from the universe that this was the start of something new. Something that could last. I leaned in close to him and he brushed his fingers through my hair, I whispered intimately a few inches from his face, "Sly, we could go anywhere as long as I go with you."
And I gave in and closed the gap between our lips. But this time, neither of us let go. The love became more and more intense and I knew that if heaven was on earth, I had found it with Sly. We never let up even as the sky turned orange and brilliant streaks of bright colors painted the clouds of the sky above us, I never opened my eyes. For I feared that if I did, then I would have to let go of this wonderful feeling and come back to reality. I was lost in a world of bliss and I never wanted to let go.
We definitely didn't get any sleep that night. So after we had dropped off Panda and Jing King, I napped for the better half of the flight home. After all the excitement of one day, I thought it was finally time to get some rest. Ironically, that's when things started to get weird. I had an oddly vivid dream. It started nice, going to a dance with Carmelita back in Paris. I was dressed in a dark tuxedo and Carmelita was wearing her long leg slit black danced across the ballroom floor, gliding around as though we were floating on air. The whole room heated up when she whispered into my ear, "So when shall we slip away?"
"As soon as we're done showing the crowd who's boss," I spun her around and pulled her close by the waist.
She gave me a seductive look before pulling away, leading off to the exit. I was about to take her hand when everything suddenly stopped. Like I was watching a video and suddenly someone had pressed the pause button. I walked around her in a circle only o find her completely frozen in mid stride, a dreamy look on her face. I looked around to see that the crowd had also succumbed to the stillness. I walked among them to inspect them all only to find that they had also been frozen where they stood. I pulled a pocket watch from a table only to find that it was also frozen. Suddenly a voice reverberated across the room from behind me.
"I can see why you like her so much," I spun around to see a raccoon sitting at a dimly lit booth with a cigar burning in one hand. There was something too familiar about him, "she reminds me of your mother."
"Dad?" I jogged over to the booth and took a seat across from him. A glass of champagne materialized in front of me, "is that really you?"
"Well yeah," he casually opened his hands in front of him like it was obvious, "who else would I be?"
I choked back tears as I struggled for words, "Dad, I can't believe it's you... I have so many things to tell you..."
He held up a hand to silence me. "Champagne first, talk in a minute."
My dad slowly sipped his glass while I drew a long drink from the glass, finishing long before he did. "Is this still a dream? Are you really here?"
He responded by subtly smacking me upside the head and holding up a finger while still drinking from his glass.
"Yeah, got it."
He sure took his time in finishing his champagne. When he did he help up his hand again as to tell me to wait, put the glass down and wiped his mouth.
"Ok," he said, "let it out."
I took a deep breath, "What's going on? Are you really here? Am I still sleeping? Where are we…" I went on for at least 20 minutes asking random questions. In the meantime my dad poured himself another glass of champagne and drank it in increments. He seemed like he was trying to be polite while I rambled on, nodding as though trying to process everything I was saying as I spew out over 15 years of questions. Everything from the Cooper Vault to the night he was killed by Clockwerk. I had so many questions. But at some point, I came up with a blaring question that I should probably ask right now, "...And umm, why are you here exactly?"
He looked up from pouring another glass, as though hearing me stop talking for more than a breath was of news to him. He adjusted himself and put the glass aside. He laced his fingers on the table and leaned forward so that the overhead light cast an ominous shadow over his face. "Ok, so let me give you a brief summary of the situation. You're sleeping yes, but you're not exactly in your head. We're in a simulated event of your past. A memory that I've reconstructed for you. I've been watching you for a while you know. You've got some good moves." He gave me a cheeky grin and my face went a little red.
"Umm, so how much have you been watching?"
"Only the important parts," he started chuckling and looked away for a moment. I traced his gaze across the dance floor to Carmelita. "She really does remind me of how your mother and I were you know. Constantly getting into trouble," I turned back to him and he had a subtle reminiscent grin on his face, as though he was remembering her, "You've done well with her. She's a strong woman. I'm proud of you son."
Those last words were enough to bring tears to my eyes. All I've been through and all the pain I've endured in my life, somehow it was all worth it just to hear those words. I wiped some tears from my eyes, "thanks dad."
"Yeah," he leaned over the table and slapped me on the shoulder before returning to his seat. He was about to say something before I spoke first.
"You knew she's not all… good as of right now. Maybe you can help me with that."
"Depends," he lifted his hand beckoning me to speak, "What's the problem?"
I put my arms up on the table and looked back at Carmelita, still poised in mid stride across the room, "Something happened in Idaho…" I turned back to face my father who was still waiting attentively, "she went completely berserk. Is there anything you might know about that?"
A small grin crept across his face as he subtly nodded. He called out across the room to seemingly noone in particular, "Eir! Mind telling my boy the deal?"
Suddenly a white lynx dressed in a shirt and jeans materialized at the end of the table, instantaneously sitting down next to my dad. She eyed me with a stare that for one reason or another sent chills up my spine. Her eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean Sea and she carried herself with an intimidating level of authority. Then suddenly, she broke composure and rested her elbow on the table to prop up her chin in a dreamy look, "So you're the guy."
My eyebrows raised in surprise and before anything else can be said, my dad stuck his hand out over the middle of the table.
"Before you make a fool of yourself, she's 500 years old. And Carmelita's ancestor," he said warningly.
I was kind of lost for words now. Especially since I almost called her 'mom' when she first materialized. That would have been horrible.
"Oh Connor, you always have to ruin all the fun," the lynx said relaxing back into the seat and crossing her arms. "And I can tell your son certainly didn't inherit your level of charm," sassed Eir, to which my dad scoffed.
"Can someone please explain to me what's going on? Like, again?" They turned back to me, as though remembering I was there. They're throwing a lot at me at once and if anyone else materializes in the next hour, I'm pretty sure I'll have a coronary.
"Oh, umm, yeah. Eir, would you please," my dad waved for her to speak.
"Of course," the lynx cleared her throat, "It was a nice wedding, but what would have made it better would be a huge keg of Ale…"
"Eir," my dad warned, "please stay on task."
She sighed resistantly, "Fine," she materialized a glass of what I could only assume was tequila or whiskey and swigged it before beginning, "so how familiar are you with Norse mythology?"
"Kind of familiar. Big axes, braided beards, Thor, that's about it though," I answered honestly.
She was clearly not impressed with my sarcasm, "how on earth did you get my relative to marry you?" She rolled her eyes before continuing, "Anyways, in Norse mythology, there is a legend of the Valkyries. It was a legend, until someone made it real…" she proceeded to tell me her account of the raids of the Angels of Death. As she went on, she only captured more and more of my attention. She told me her story of meeting Slaigh MacCooper, fighting with him, and eventually, how he sacrificed himself so that she could live, "That frog did something to us, something called 'gene-therapy'. It altered us and it seems to have altered everyone in our family line from then on. Last year there were only two of us left. You knew Sierra, but she's gone now, as I am sorry to hear. Carmelita is all that remains."
"So you're telling me that Carmelita is an Angel of Death?"
Eir looked at me and nodded calmly, "yep." like it was no big deal.
"Should I be worried in any way?" It was a worthy concern, for obvious reasons.
"Oh no, you don't. But anyone else that tries to cause her or anyone she truly cares about harm or if she sees that the life of anyone she cares about is in mortal danger, the culprit is more than likely not to survive. That night in the forest was the first time she's ever seen that side of herself. It was basically just a test run."
"A Test, so she can be stronger?"
"Something like that. The Valkyrie gene doesn't just increase your strength. It also boosts your speed, stamina, and mental processing. After all, you have to be more than strong to take over all of Europe,"she waved a hand and her glass refilled. "In other words, she's capable of waging war."
I was somewhat stunned from this revelation. In all honesty, I wasn't entirely sure what to do with this information. Like, what was I supposed to say? 'Yay, my wife is a genetically engineered badass warrior. Fear me.' It was borderline overwhelming.
"Does she know?" I finally broke my trance long enough to ask the question.
"Yes, I told her," said Eir as she took a swig from her glass.
"Wait, but how does that work then? I thought we were in my head."
"Well we are," Eir explained, "but we aren't limited to just you. I came to her, just as I'm coming to you now."
"So what does that mean exactly?"
"Basically we're ghosts," my dad clarified, "We do ghost stuff, like take candy from neighbors on halloween and haunt houses," and he made a mock-ghost noise.
"I will never understand your culture," Eir shook her head as she stood up from the booth. My dad followed and so did I.
"Ok, now before we go, I still need to answer your last question, why we're here."
"Time's up Connor, he's waking up," the room started to shift as though the walls were turning to sand and a whirlwind was slowly eroding the architecture away and slowly turning it all into a cyclone of dust. Eir walked back into the cyclone and disappeared.
"Son, you've got a nice life and you've lost a lot," my dad said as the cyclone picked up speed. The floor was starting to fall away, leaving the floor on top of it suspended in mid air to disintegrate on their own, "but you've entered a whole new world and started a fight that you can't just abandon. The world is collapsing Sly. You need to go back and finish what you started. You'll find what you need in London," now he was starting to fade away, starting at the legs and the sand creeping up his body till all that was left was his torso, "It's time to wake up... I love you son." And with those last heartfelt words, he fell away into the now rapidly spinning sand storm. Soon, the sand started to dissolve me too.
"I love you too dad," and I closed my eyes as I fell away as well. All I was now was a disembodied spirit. Everything started to go dark, getting dimmer and dimmer, until it was all pitch black. Then the sound started to recede, and soon, nothing.
An instant later, I woke up, staring up at the ceiling with Carmelita still fast asleep next to me. I jolted upright in bed and startled her awake.
"Sly?" she stirred sleepily, "What's wrong?"
"I saw something," I looked over my shoulder at her lying on her side, "we need to go to Great Britian."
I immediately seeked out Bentley, whom I found in the control center of Ghostrider. It was 6 in the morning but he had a habit of waking up early. I stormed into the small dimly lit room where he was standing before a desk in a room lined with computers on one wall.
"Bentley," he turned around startled by the sound of my voice, "I need you to re establish communications."
"Umm… good morning to you too. But are you sure?" He dropped down in a sitting position and started shifting windows around so he had a new workspace on the computer.
"Yes I'm sure," I walked over and put my weight on the desk, "Specifically with Europe."
"Alright then," he responded as he began to type away.
Soon enough the screen started filling with news articles from the last few months of the destabilization of Europe. There were also multiple mentions of a terrorist called 'The Phantom of Geneva'. It was like the world was falling apart. There were reports of assassinations of various politicians ranging from prime minister's to representatives and their families. According to the reports, everyone in the region was treating it like a doomsday event. My dad was right, our actions over the last few years had started a chain of events and now the world was seeing the consequences.
"Bentley, we need to finish this," I looked to him to my right.
"But why?" he threw his arms up in the air,"why should we care what they do? They've never done anything for us."
"Because we caused this."
It was a rough argument but after we debated for the rest of the flight, we finally came to the conclusion that if was only right that we clean up the mess we'd made. I also had to assure Carmelita that it was the best course of action. She was full heartedly opposed to the idea at first but when I told her about my dream, she seemed to understand. But she mentioned that at some point, we would need to talk about my talk with Eir.
In what only felt like another hour, we touched down in Idaho. We quickly loaded up our mission essentials and gear onto the plane before taking off. We took with us our sneaking suits, basic weapons and a few long range weapons along with Bentleys Grenade launcher. We also took two Sentinels and Murray's van loaded with communications and surveillance equipment. Although it was dismantled, it was far less suspicious than the Sentinels and could provide a better means of staying hidden.
Shortly thereafter, we took off for Great Britain. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. Maybe it would be a repeat of how Paris fell, buildings crumbling and fires in the street. We never even gave ourselves time to process the situation of even develop a plan beforehand, so we started simple with what we knew. We knew from the news reports that Marital Law was being enforced in most of Europe including Great Britain and all air traffic was closely monitored. We couldn't land somewhere around Great Britain because it was an island and their air radar would detect us before we got anywhere close. So Bentley had to quickly forge a travel warrant from the US as a private jet liner for a New York Billionaire. It was simple but gave us a decent reason to fly a cargo plane into the country with no major cargo to offload and do private business in the area. But as for dealing with the chaos in the region, we decided that our first course of action would be to find this 'Phantom of Geneva'. We still had no real idea as to who the Phantom was or what they were after. So maybe we could talk to him and make him an ally. But if worse came to worse, at least we knew who the enemy was.
We touched down in Heathrow Airport at roughly 7:20 am. It was rather foggy outside so we really didn't know what to expect on the ground. We taxied into a private docking space and there were 3 vehicles waiting by the rear of the parking spot. As the cargo bay door dropped, several wolves in suits exited the vehicles in unison to greet us. It was rather fortunate that we had anticipated such an event and had gotten dressed beforehand in formal wear to look like we were who we said we were. They waited by their Suburban SUV's as we walked out to the 16 henchmen.
"Hold," one of them called and walked out before the others. He held out a hand expectantly, "your papers please."
Bentley stepped forward and handed over several masterfully forged documents. There were no giveaways to that they weren't legitimate, even the weight of the paper was researched. The wolf flipped through the various pages before asking security questions like date of birth and current residence.
"And may I ask your business in London?" he asked with a soft accent still flipping through the pages.
"We're here for a meeting discussing the removal of company assets from Great Britain," he glanced up for a moment before returning to the pages.
"And why is that?"
"Simply said, we are less than pleased with the status of the region. We don't want to lose assets because of a conflict we aren't a part of," answered Bentley.
"Well I am truly sorry to hear that," he neatly reordered the documents and handed them back, "Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, enjoy your stay in London."
"Thank you," I took the papers and handed them back to Bentley. Anderson was an alias that Bentley had set up for all of us. Everyone's last name was anderson either as an adopted brother or by marriage. We could have done better but with the short amount of time he had to prepare, it did the job well.
The wolves got back into their SUV's and drove off into the fog and eventually disappeared behind the wall of grey. Now it was time to start the next part of our plan, find the Phantom.
We drove around the eerily empty city streets in the van while Bentley sat in the back, trying to scan radio frequencies for any sign of the Phantom. Radio chatter was at a minimum, but there were a number of reports of murders in the area. They mostly consisted of thugs and gangs, but there was recently one confirmed murder of a church priest a mere day ago. It wasn't much but it was a start. On the drive over to the church, Bentley did a little digging on the priest. He was the suspect in multiple investigations by Interpol for corruption, but every one had gone cold before turning up any significant evidence. Even so, he was a respected priest and held a high position at the Temple Church. He was killed yesterday evening in his confessions booth during a rainstorm by two .45 bullets through the conjoining wall. When we got there we parked a few blocks down, just within view of the church. I could see the building was still swarming with police. We were too late to get anything of value from the actual crime scene since it was probably already taken as evidence, but then Carmelita had an idea.
"We can't get into the church because there are probably forensic teams doing their job right now," she explained from the passenger seat, "but there are still security cameras all around the city. If we can tap into the security cameras watching the front of the church at that time, we might be able to see who the Phantom is."
It was worth a shot. It wouldn't be too hard to break into a public data farm or for Bentley to hack the city's security network, but ironically it wouldn't be necessary. Being owned by the city, the cameras are considered public property, meaning that anyone can have access to recorded footage just by googling the cross-streets at which they are located. So in a lackluster turn of events, Bentley hijacked a local IP address to make us untraceable and started looking through the cameras in the area. It took him a few minutes before he called us all back to share his findings.
"The cameras didn't catch anything but there's something else going on here," he started as he pulled out a dry erase marker and started writing on a whiteboard he brought with him. He drew several boxes spaced out in a grid pattern and a number of arrows. "So the church is here," he marked one of the boxes 'church', "and there are security cameras lining this entire street," he made circles with triangles sprouting from one direction indicating a field of view, "I think he just walked down the street. He didn't try to sneak in or anything. But there's a problem." he punched a few keys on his keyboard and directed our attention to a screen where a number of camera feeds were showed in a grid. The church was in a number of them, "Watch this," and he played the footage and one by one, they all went dark and came back on when another had gone dark. It was as though something was being hidden or a segment from each feed had been cut from each tape as to hide the movement of someone walking on the street. The feed cut in front of the church and a minute later, came back on. Then, the same happened in reverse. "I think this Phantom is smarter than we originally thought."
"So what do you suppose we do?" Carmelita asked, "If we can't see him then how are we supposed to track him?"
"We wait him out," Penelope piped in. She had been quiet this entire trip, "We can't see him directly, but whenever he moves in front of a camera, it shows up as being under maintenance, which can be tracked. So I think our best option is to lay low and Bentley and I make a surveillance sub-matrix to track whenever one of the cameras gets shut off. With any luck we'll have a general direction within a day or so."
So that's what we did. We went back to the AC-130 and waited as Bentley and Penelope went to work on developing their matrix…thing. Not seeing anything else to do while we waited, I took out my cane and started playing around in the cargo hold. It had been a while since I had done so and it felt liberating. Jumping and flipping through the air like I was in the circus. It was a nice couple of hours.
It wasn't long before something came up. After sorting through all the legitimate cases of maintenance, Bentleys matrix locked onto a path that was being hidden by the cameras, but this time it was moving fast. The frames switched four times faster than before along the River Thames. The Phantom seemed to be approaching the coast, in which case, we would lose him because there are no cameras over there. So we loaded up the van and raced downtown. We had just arrived at the Thames when Bentley said that the trail had gone cold near the Waterloo Bridge. Al the cameras had come back on in the area and it was like the Phantom had vanished into thin air. We got out to examine the boardwalk by the river, looking for any clues as to anyone's whereabouts at all. But there was nothing. I just then noticed that the entire area was deserted. The only sound was that of newspapers blowing across the street and the screech of birds overhead. But then came the many back SUVs from around the buildings. They instantly had us trapped on both sides and formed a blockade 30 meters away in both directions. Out stepped a small army of armed guards with body armor and weapons and a patch of a snake head closely resembling those of the guards that had tried to attack us in Idaho. We dealt with them with ease then, but now we were in their territory. We were at their mercy. They held us at gunpoint and shouted at us to put our hands up, to which we complied. When we had gotten on our knees, a bulldog exited the nearest SUV. he was wearing body armor and sunglasses over a jacketless suit and carried himself with importance. I remembered him from the news and media outlets as the Prime Minister of Great Britain. This meant that Great Britain was a part of the FoV. He stepped forward to a few meter from us and stopped. He put his hands on his hips and looked around at us.
"You have caused a great deal of trouble for my associates. Haven't you?" He said. We said nothing in reply. "Not feeling talkative? Fine, let me put something in the air to break the ice,"he slowly began pacing. He pointed to each one of us as he passed and named us off, "Penelope, renowned pilot. Bentley, infamous hacker. Carmelita, exceptional Interpol agent," He stopped at me, "and who can forget Sly Cooper, the master thief." he walked over to me and crouched down. A few feet away. I wasn't sure whether I should try to snap his neck or not. My better instincts told me that may be a bad idea. "I bet you thought you were invincible."
"Only on Sundays buddy," I couldn't tell for sure but I could swear I could see Carmelita crack a smile out of the corner of my eye.
"You've got heart, I like that," he pulled out a Sig Sauer P320 and aimed it at my chest. "So if you want to keep it, why don't you tell me where your friend is."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I told him, "we're it. Everyone else is dead."
"Bullshit," he replied calmly. He shifted his aim to aim at Carmelitas head, "how 'bout now?"
"I swear I'm telling you the truth," I realized then that he had no intention of letting any of us live.
"I'm sure you are."
My heart stopped as I heard the springs of the trigger start to fight against the bulldogs trigger squeeze. And a moment later, we were blinded by an explosion from behind the minister. We were knocked off balance and I seized the moment. Instantly taking the gun and turning it back on him to pull the trigger in his face. I looked over my shoulder, my ears still ringing, and saw that something had torn through all the SUV's, leaving them a mess of twisted metal and burning gasoline. All the guards had been killed by the shrapnel. A moment later, there was another blast, doing the same to the guards behind us. Now we were all that was left on the boardwalk.
I traced the shot to a building opposite from us across the river. Up past the London eye perched on a building, I could just make out the silhouette of a lone marksman. I took out my binocucom and zoomed in on him to get a better look at him. A siberian tiger was just standing up, hefting a railgun on his shoulder with one arm. It was John, he was alive. But something was off about him. The most notable of which being he now had a long scar going over his left eye, which was now tinted red.