The Wolf of Karachi
It could not have been more than a week since they defeated the mysterious Jack, the mastermind behind the Order of the Sphinx, and his dastardly plan to create a "perfect world", a world full of eunuchs making everyone the same.
In that time, Marc made an enemy and then a friend though Edward Carlyle, a soon-to-be disgraced FBI agent. Edward's team died fighting Sphinx, he was held responsible for each of their deaths. But it was Jasper who sacrificed himself to create the perfect distraction.
Marc sat alone in the dark nursing a bottle of gin, reflecting on the past events. He jumped at the sound of a lout rapping on his door.
"It's open!" He called out without looking up.
Riza walked in. "We're heading to the train station. The train leaves in an hour to Karachi. You ready?"
Marc gulped the last of his gin and tossed the bottle behind him, shattering the glass against the wall as he stood up. He heafted his bag over his shoulder and smiled.
"Let's go get our friend."
"Tick... Tock... Tick... Tock...". The clock in Vulkie's office showed that it was almost 3 AM.
Her head lying down on her desk, bottle in one hand and her Colt 1911 in the other, she had an awful nightmare about the events that had transpired only a few weeks ago.
What transpired in those days was still haunting her memory and would, most likely, haunt her for the rest of her life.
The brazen bull, the cutting of the Ambassador, the fight that ensued and Jack, the head of the Order of the Spinx, being defeated at last.
Since those events, she had gone on a quest to destroy every last fragment of the Order of the Sphinx. But she knew that it wasn't over; remnants of the Order were still around the world and were probably planning their revenge on the brave group of detectives that had stopped them.
As the clock softly chimed three times, indicating that 3 AM had finally arrived, Vulkie softly opened her eyes; awakened by the sound, she started to slowly get up and took another swig out of the half-empty whiskey bottle.
"That was an awful dream I had," she whispered to no one in particular.
From the corner of her eye, she spotted a shadowy figure. Immediately alerted, she aimed her gun at the figure, who cackled.
"Ha ha ha detective, do you really think that's going to help?" an all too familiar voice said.
As the figure stepped out of the shadow, Vulkie was immediately alarmed; it was Jack, the head of the Order of the Sphinx.
"But... but... we killed you!" Vulkie exclaimed, gripping her gun even tighter.
"Did you now? Maybe I'm here; maybe I'm not. Maybe I am indeed dead, as you claim, but even so, that doesn't mean we get to have our little fun moment now, do we?" Jack hypothesized. A trickle of blood dripped from the hole where he had been shot and Vulkie rubbed once more in her eyes.
The figure had disappeared in that same moment. Vulkie stared at the half-empty bottle and wondered if it was a figment of her own imagination...
Amidst the pouring rain outside, a single drop of clear water hit the hardwood floor inside Riza Hawkeye’s apartment. The woman stood in front of the fireplace, her silhouette cast against the furniture as her eyes flicked over a piece of paper. She suddenly clenched her fist, crumpling the letter as she pulled it towards her chest. For a moment she contemplated tossing it into the flames, but then took a deep breath and slowly let the emotion drain out of her. Later. This would have to wait. She had more pressing matters to attend to at the moment.
Riza briskly rifled through her desk drawers, slipping various objects into different parts of her outfit. She pulled her travel bag out from under her bed and tossed in some clothing and her special black lockbox. Within two minutes she was out the door and headed to Marc’s. Fifteen minutes later, they were both in a car on the way to the train station.
As the two got out of the car and made their way onto the crowded platform, they spotted a familiar figure standing half in the shadow of a pillar, his face lighting up as he took a long drag on his cigarette. Riza’s stilettos made distinctive clicks on the wood as she strutted with purpose towards the man, Marc right behind her.
“Not even a week since I got home, and here we are, gallivanting around the world again,” Riza quipped sarcastically by means of greeting.
Marc clapped Joseph on the back. They all began to chat as they prepared to board the train.
Although preoccupied with their individual worries, the three were nevertheless filled with a sense of determination for their upcoming rescue mission. The train horn sounded, signaling the start of their new journey.
Edward hung his head over the rails of the Sleuthsitania. The large waves rocked the ship as it made it's way over the Atlantic. It was hurricane season by now so the wind made the waves even worse.
He could feel his stomach turning as the ships bow tilted backwards and then see down on the water. "Oh, God", he thought as he felt his lunch come up, and then he vomited right into the ocean.
He stumbled away from the deck of the ship and back to his bunk. He picked up the small yellow telegram he received a few days ago. By now, everyone had to be in Karachi.
EDWARD, WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO KARACHI. WE'LL FIND YOU WHEN YOU ARRIVE.
He folded the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. No sooner, did he feel the sea sickness come back. He ran over to the trashcan in his small room and vomited again.
He longed for a drink to dull his senses. No, he thought. He can't. Remember what happened last time you got drunk. No more..
He layed down on his bed and tried to go to sleep.
“Aren’t you three a sight for sore eyes!” Molly stuck her head unceremoniously from her sleeping car, waving one pale arm at Marc, Riza and Joseph. The pouring rain had abated momentarily, and the blistering humidity had caused Molly to forsake her usual silky gloves. In fact, in her light travel dress and simple low heeled boots she was feeling practically bohemian.
A week of rest had done her well, and though her ankle was still wrapped quite sternly (hence the low-heeled booties) she was managing to walk without the aid of crutches or the like. Though her gait was rather stiff and unflattering, she supposed nothing could be done about it.
Hopefully this silly round of collecting Anais from whither she had gone in Karachi wouldn’t require extraordinary physical feats, as she had had quite enough falls, temples, car chases, explosions and gunfights for the next few years, thank you very much.
After the three had spotted her, she turned to the uniformed attendant waiting inconspicuously in the corner of her sitting room. Brandishing a bill from her handbag, she indicated the three still on the platform.
“Darling, those are my associates. You’ll find Miss Hawkeye, Mr. Lacrimosa and Mr. Zeo have had their quarters arranged conveniently in the next car over per my wishes. Would you be a dear and expedite their boarding? I have much to discuss with them. Show them into my sitting room when they are quite settled.”
The attendant nodded and went to do her bidding. Half-hopping over to the compact drink cabinet, Molly mixed a sidecar for herself and settled down to wait.
Joseph woke up to darkest, not remembering where he was. The consistent rocking and mechanical noise bought his mind back on the train. Beyond the window, the slither of the waning moon hung on by a thread as the rest of the scenery scurried by like shadows.
Joseph had no idea what woke him. Was it a dream he failed to remember, or a noise he subconsciously noticed? Joseph could decipher the deep breathing with a hint of a snore above him on the upper bunk where Marc was asleep.
While Molly & Riza each had their own sleeping car, Joseph and Marc decided to save up and shared a bunk cabin. Who knew how long it would take them to find Anais? The thought of her trapped in an unknown city clawed through his nerves. Joseph needed a smoke.
Through the slit of the door Joseph noticed Riza out in the dimmed corridor, holding a crumpled piece of paper. A letter, perhaps? She reread it over and over. As he slid open his cabin door, Riza quickly shoved the piece of paper in her pocket. Joseph pretended not to see it. He lit up as soon as he could, and offered Riza a stick of his Chesterfield. Riza refused. The noise from the tracks became especially loud.
Riza broke the silence, “Do you think Molly is right?” When she noticed Joseph didn’t catch on she added, “with HER possible location.” They had gone through numerous spot as they met in Molly’s sleeping car, which dragged on from afternoon to late evening. Each had their own idea and no conclusion was drawn.
Joseph pulled as much nicotine into himself as possible, then let his chest fall. He craved that sensation. He simply shook his head. “We need more information, and we’re not getting it until we reach Karachi.” Joseph concluded.
His answer did not satisfy Riza and she was about to state her cases. Joseph snuffed his cigarette by the window sill and turned around, heading back to his cabin. He could feel electricity frying the air behind him.
Joseph wanted to ask Riza about so many things. What letter was she reading? Was it a letter? How she had been doing? How is that li
Joseph wanted to ask Riza about so many things. What letter was she reading? Was it a letter? How she had been doing? How is that little girl that he mistakenly bought into this world? He simply wouldn’t dare asking. He feared misunderstanding, of expectations he would never be able to meet, of troubles he was unable or unwilling to help out...
Jospeh slid the door shut behind him, as he always did.
The train trundled on through the night, the rolling hills and distant mountains of the Indian landscape whispering by in a hush. Molly sat drenched in moonlight, gazing at the blur of pastures, grasslands and small villages of shepherds whisking by. A gold-rimmed martini glass hovered at her lips.
She considered all that had transpired, the weary faces of her friends as they bandied about possible locations of Anais in her sitting room earlier. Unbidden, memories of the final confrontation sprang to her mind as they had frequently over the past few days. The death of Jasper, the death of Jack... his bright blue eye, which she had shattered...the twisted, unrecognizable face of her ex husband.
Slowly, she reached into her brassiere and dreamlike, pulled out the tiny fragment of blue stone. A remainder of the amulet, shattered as it was. Molly wasn't even sure how or when it had wound up in her possession. It had shaken free into her hand as if it had always been there outside the hideout. For some reason, she didn't show the others.
Now, in the darkness of her sleeping car, she turned it over carefully in her fingers, wondering if she was imagining the faint pulsing light flickering and flashing like a fairy light as it turned in her fingertips. Wondering why she could almost hear his voice, whispering, seething. Alternating between the seductive tones she so remembered from the early days of marriage, and an inhuman buzzing like a thousand insect wings.
"What a legacy you leave, Jack." She said to no one at all, slipping the fragment back into her blouse and resuming her vigil at the window. Karachi, she was sure, held more for her than Anais.
The sea sickness eneded immediately after Edward got off of the cruise ship in Shanghai. It was hot and humid from the previous rain storm that passed through. His next stop was the train station. He hailed a taxi and before he knew it, he was at the station.
He bought his ticked to Karachi and sat down to wait for the train. A new feeling passed over him. One that made him sick to his stomach, but not enough to make him vomit again. This feeling was fear. A fear that he forgot something. But what?
It wasn't until sometime around 2:00 am, that he remembered what he had forgotten. He opened his eyes wide awake remembering that Molly had arranged for a private flight for him to meet them in Karachi.
"Damnit!" He yelled. Then he remembered that the person he shared a compartment with was sound asleep, snoring like a wild beast. "Damnit, all!" He whispered loudly this time, being more careful not to wake him up. He quickly sat up, also forgetting about the top bunk. He slapped his head on the bottom of the bunk and knocked himself unconscious.
He awoke 12 hours later as the train stopped at another station. He would have to board one more train to get to Karachi.
Even though it was the middle of the night and all of the windows were open, it was stiflingly hot in the train car and Riza was positively parched. She peeled herself off her seat with a grimace. Perhaps it would have been better had she chosen to deviate from her usual full-body attire for something a little more suited for the weather.
“Which way is it?” Riza mused to herself as she turned her head left to right, before she remembered the bucket of ice she had seen in Molly’s car earlier. Riza couldn’t be bothered to fix herself a drink, but a cold beverage would be lovely--all the more so in good company! Hopefully Molly was still awake.
As Riza sauntered down the hallway, her mind turned again to the letter she received just before she left. As she was fairly certain Joseph had caught her looking at it earlier, she dared not bring it out again, instead choosing to squirrel it away in her travel bag, in between her delicates. But she had already memorized every word.
Riza ran her hand through her hair. What could she do in her current position? It wasn’t as though she had planned everything out that far in advance…but she had to acknowledge that she needed to make a decision fairly soon.
Lost in her thoughts, Riza did not notice someone emerging from another compartment. The train lurched to the right as it turned a bend, throwing Marc off balance. He fell to the side and cursed, expecting to feel the hallway’s hardwood paneling greet his ribs, but instead his chest landed against something soft.
Marc stared into Riza’s eyes for the moment, having not yet realized he had her pinned against the wall. He lingered perhaps a moment too long, as she raised an eyebrow at him. As soon as he came to his senses, his face turned a shade paler. “I--I, er…sorry,” he said, immediately pulling back. The last thing he needed was another scar to add to the collection.
“Wait,” Marc said as Riza began to walk away.
She stopped and turned towards him. “Yes?”
Marc could not contain himself. He grabbed her and pulled her close and kissed her on the lips. She kissed back. For a moment. Then she opened her yes and jerked out of his grasp. She glared at him and slapped him hard on the face.
“I-I'm sorry,” Marc said quickly, “I don't know what came over me. I-”
Riza cut him off by kissing him hard on the lips. “Shut up,” she said. And kissed him again. They pulled away from each other and made their way to nearest compartment. He slid the door open hastily and slammed it shut, locking it as they entered the tiny compartment. They kissed again, time touching each other intimately. She fumbled for his belt as he ripped open her blouse, and laid her on the bed
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