Chester W. Harper: Pursuit and Punishment

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Pursuit and Punishment 

Chester W. Harper

Adam closed his book on the history of Navarre and looked at his beautiful wife asleep in the next seat. He smiled as he noticed the touches of grey in her auburn hair. Her petite frame in the large seat made him look from her to their son sitting ramrod straight in his seat at the back of the transport. They were on their way to Navarre on a two-fold mission. Adam, with a master’s degree in archeology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, was going to help interpret findings at a medieval dig site. All he had been told was that the findings were unusual. Willow, his wife, was the medical officer for the excursion, and Jack, their son, was head of security. He looked at Jack again, quite the intimidating sight, wearing a kevlar vest and holding an assault rifle. Two pistols hung from a belt. Jack noticed his father’s attention and smiled, baring his sharp canines. Most people would run from the sight of a nine-foot sasquatch wearing body armor and armed to the teeth. 

Adam left his seat and went to his son. “How much longer?” 

“We should be there in approximately four hours. The transport is making good time at 300 miles per hour.” 

“I feel safer knowing we are not under the Atlantic any longer. Tons of water over your head is unnerving.” 

Jack laughed. “Tons of dirt and stone is better?” 

They were interrupted by Buck, the society’s high leader. “Jack, have you or your mother sensed anything unusual?” 

“No, sir. He has not attempted contact since the last, unsuccessful attacks on Auntie and Venus. We believe we are out of his range now. Auntie and Venus continue to wear devices that will sense his attempts but block them.” 

What became known as the Boggy Creek Incident resulted in the unfortunate deaths of several individuals, including Venus’s parents. Venus’s psychopathic uncle, Egret, aka Edgar C. Wildman, had vowed revenge on Auntie Willow and the entire society. He telepathically attacked Auntie Willow, not to be confused with Jack’s mother, Willow. When that proved unsuccessful, he attacked his own niece, Venus, in an attempt to discover their exact location. Thus far, he was unsuccessful. 

The primary focus of this trip was to meet with a member of the Navarre, Spain branch of the society who was the strongest telepath known to the worldwide society. She agreed to meet them and discuss bringing Egret under control. They hoped she would travel back to the states with them and would be able to find Egret by penetrating the mind block he placed when he fled his home and job in Dallas. 

*** 

The travelers were welcomed by the high leader of the Navarre society, Gato Montes, and his entourage, which included the leader of the archeological team, Cardoon, and the object of their journey, Cynara, the telepath extraordinaire. 

“Come, let us refresh ourselves with some of our best cheese and fruit juices.” Gato Montes welcomed them with open arms. He looked to Buck. “It has been too long, my friend.” 

“Yes, it has. I wish we were here on pleasure only and not in pursuit of a madman.” 

“Let us talk of that later. Now, we enjoy old and new friends.” Gato left no room for argument. 

*** 

Early the next morning, Adam stood looking at the magnificent Castildetierra Peak in the Bardenas Reales Natural Park. The natural formation looked like a giant had let sand run through his fingers and form an enormous pyramid. 

“The dig is under the mountain, Senor Adam.” Cardoon led Adam to the entrance of the dig site.

“What made you dig here?” Adam questioned. 

“We were expanding the subterranean transport system.” Cardoon shrugged. “That project has been suspended — indefinitely.” 

As he led the way, Cardoon continued. “We have dated this find to the time of Garcia de Pamplona in the ninth century. It is quite… astounding.” 

His curiosity piqued, Adam followed Cardoon in silence until they arrived in a large room with elaborate paintings on the walls and two sarcophagi. One sarcophagus was maybe six feet long, while the other was at least ten feet long. Realization crept into Adam’s senses as he took it all in. The paintings featured a large hair-covered creature in tender scenes with a woman. 

“If this is what it appears to be, it would suggest that our society existed here in the ninth century. Our written history begins in the twelfth century when we fled persecution in Algeria and settled here.” 

Cardoon looked to Adam with desperation in his eyes. “We need you to examine the being in the large sarcophagus and either confirm or disprove our theory.” 

“Have you opened either sarcophagus?”

“No. We were waiting for you to arrive so as to not compromise the site. As far as we know, the sarcophagi may be empty.” 

Adam felt a thrill run up and down his spine. He was definitely in his element. 

*** 

While Adam found himself in archeological heaven, Buck, Willow, and Jack found themselves being interrogated. They were separated and asked a series of questions regarding the Boggy Creek Incident. Now they, and their inquisitors, were with Gato Montes as he read the reports from his team. 

“Well,” Gato smiled at them, “it appears you all have the same story. We had to question each of you per protocol.” He looked to Jack. “Your description of the event is by far the most detailed and colorful. Did he really smile as the flames consumed him?” 

“Yes.” Jack visibly shuddered. “I still experience flashbacks and nightmares.” 

“I imagine you do.” He looked to Willow and Buck. “When your esteemed husband finishes his work, Cynara has agreed to return to the United States with you. Our elders agree that Egret must be stopped before he is able to harm anybody or to expose our society — which we believe will be his next move if he is unable to exact revenge in any other way.” 

“Thank you, Gato.” Buck spoke to his equal. “We, too, believe he will attempt exposure of the society if he is unable to eliminate Dr. Willow.” 

“Then, let us see what the archeological team has decided and how long it will take them to achieve their objective.” 

*** 

Willow and Cynara sat talking as they enjoyed fresh pomegranate juice from Navarre. “What do your scientists plan to do with Adam’s findings?” Willow asked politely. 

“They will dig into the history of Navarre and attempt to find any documents that mention the union of a royal woman to a foreign man of great stature. We have never searched for anything from that time period because we thought we knew when we arrived in Navarre.” She chuckled. “They were almost wanting the sarcophagi to be an elaborate ancient hoax. When Adam’s team was able to isolate DNA from the bones of the giant and found the Esau gene, they were pleasantly shocked. Now they will try to identify the individuals in the tomb.” 

Willow leaned forward. “How will they do that?” 

“They will do a DNA analysis on the woman to ensure that she was a royal. The burial suggests she was. Then they will look for mysterious disappearances, deaths, or evidence of a royal cover-up to hide the relationship.” 

Cynara’s face went suddenly blank and she had a far-off look in her eyes. Willow recognized the look of a telepath sensing something. 

“He is near. I can feel the rage as he casts out, feeling for Dr. Willow or Venus. He keeps repeating their names.” She looked to Jack, who had walked over to see what was wrong. “Where are we?” 

Jack checked with the transport team. “We are just past Memphis, Tennessee.”

“He is there — and quite inebriated.” She sneered. “How distasteful.” 

“The entire family broke with societal norms and enjoyed alcohol to excess,” Jack replied. “Most of them were drunk when they died at Boggy Creek.” 

“That will be his downfall. Alcohol dulls his powerful senses. When can we go to Memphis?” 

“Soon. We need a team to ensure his capture and to deal with any unintended witnesses.” 

Buck had also entered the conversation. “At least we know where he is and that he has a weakness.” 

*** 

The team gathered outside the apartment building where Egret stayed. It was a good location for them. It backed up to a wooded area and was perfect for hiding the team. 

“Have they gone to sleep yet or are they still drinking?” Jack was ready to move. They had already waited three hours for Egret and his companion to fall asleep. The plan was to abduct Egret without alerting any witnesses. Time grew short as it was already 3 a.m. 

“They are both asleep or passed out. Wait ten minutes and then move.” Cynara looked to Willow. “Is the sedative prepared?” 

“Yes. Given intramuscularly, he should be unconscious within seconds.” 

“Let’s move.” Jack opened the sliding patio door. He had just picked the lock and didn’t want to risk exposure now that they were out in the open. 

“I don’t sense anyone awake to see us.” Jack nodded at Cynara’s reassurance. While Jack and Willow approached the bedroom, Adam looked at the mail on the kitchen bar. None of it was addressed to Edgar Wildman. This was not his apartment. The rest of the team was on standby in case anything went awry. 

Jack averted his eyes from the bed. His mother applied a very fast-acting numbing cream to Egret’s deltoid. He, and the man lying next to him, were clad in only their underwear. Their nearly hairless bodies made Jack uncomfortable. Willow injected the sedative and palpated Egret’s carotid pulse until it slowed to the point she knew he was unarousable. She motioned for Jack to lift him from the bed, and they exited the room with their goal achieved. The other man never stirred, and his thought patterns indicated a dream state. 

A quick search of the apartment provided Egret’s telephone and luggage. These were also taken for any evidence they could provide and to make the apartment’s occupant think that Edgar left in the middle of the night. 

*** 

Questioning, explaining, and reasoning had done nothing to convince Egret that Boggy Creek had been justified. He insisted that they were all murderers, including Venus, and deserved to be exposed and punished. He had tried to make outside contact on numerous occasions. Documents in his laptop revealed a well thought out plan to expose the society. He revealed that he felt safe in Memphis because his companion there was psychic. 

“Can we do nothing to convince you?” Buck asked, exhausted. 

“No — Hell no! Your team went in there and killed the only family I had left, except for the little traitor there. She has been brainwashed by your so-called experts.” He looked at Venus. 

“As we have told you, your brother set the fire that killed him and those with him. We attempted rescue and were only able to save Venus and Reed. Elimination was not our intention.” Jack seemed as exasperated as Buck, having repeated himself several times in the last few hours. 

“Shut up, ape-man! I don’t need to hear lies from your kind.” The sneer on Egret’s face expressed his feelings better than his words. 

Buck sighed. He need not remind Egret, again, that he was of their kind. Buck hammered his gavel and rose to his feet. The room became dead silent. “Egret, son of deceased society members Hawk and Loon, you are found guilty of high treason to the society, as well as attempted assault and/or murder by telepathy. Your punishment is as follows…” 

Egret spat at his accusers. “There is nothing you can do to me that is worse than experiencing my twins burning to death.” 

Buck continued. “Normally, you would be mind swept and left to live in non-society civilization. Your extraordinary powers of telepathy make that impossible. So, you will be placed in a stasis chamber where you will remain until such time as a more humane punishment is found.” 

*** 

Adam walked into the room containing the stasis chamber with Jack. Willow was on shift ensuring the relatively new procedure of stasis was going as expected. “How is he?” 

Willow looked up. “He is the same. His brain is resisting stasis. Brainwave readings suggest a state of deep dreamless sleep with undercurrents of extreme anger and hostility.” 

Jack sighed. “What a horrible existence — death would be better.” 

Willow took his hand. “It is our most humane punishment, son.” 

Jack looked down at his parents. “Is it?” 

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