“What is it?” Pike said.
The young technician was nervous working in front of a lab full of visitors. He seemed especially anxious about the Maynard twins, stealing frequent glances at them and swallowing as he did. His Adam’s apple was the size of a walnut.
“It’s, uh, a stone hand,” he said.
Pike sighed. When his father was apart of the organization, the Ravenscroft laboratories had been among the premiere scientific investigation facilities in the world.
“We didn’t need a lab rat to tell us that,” Pug said.
“Is it part of a sculpture,” Pike said, “or is it some kind of fossil?”
“D-definitely fossil. But of what, I can’t say, not without further examination.”
That was what Elizabeth had basically told them earlier, insinuating that the giant six-fingered appendage was something that Brotherhood of the First had discovered in the recent past. After that, she clammed up. As far as Pike knew, she was roaming the hallways here, possibly making a call to her former Brotherhood cohorts.
Larry Bob Maynard loomed over the technician. “Whatchoo name, boy?”
The young lab worker swallowed again. “Doo-Doo-Dwayne,” he stuttered.
Larry Bob smiled. “Okay, Doo Doo, why don’t you get your ass movin’ on that further examination, yo?”
Dwayne nodded. He continued nodding as he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Finally, he said, “May I go to the restroom, sir?”
“Go ‘head, Doo Doo,” Larry Bob said. The lab tech fled the room, hunched over like a child who was about to mess his pants.
Pike shook his head. As amusing as his friend was, he couldn’t stay in the lab any longer. There were no answers here. He wasn’t any closer to finding Gemma than he had been in Mexico.
He followed Dwayne into the hall.
“Where you headed, boss?” Pug called after him.
“To get some air.” And to ask some questions.
Once in the hallway, he and the nervous technician went in opposite directions. Pike followed discreet signs that directed him to the stairwell. He had some thinking to do, and the laboratory’s roof seemed like a good place to do it.
His head fairly buzzed from a combination of sleeplessness and caffeine. He knew he wasn’t at his best, but there was no time to rest. Pike needed to be on the move, to search for Gemma. He also wanted some answers about his father, a subject that would have to wait.
From the stairs, he heard the metal door to the roof open and he looked up as a slim figure went through the opening.
Perfect. Pike was tired of waiting for something to develop. He didn’t trust the young woman and suspected she knew far more than she was sharing. It was time to press her for information.
He reached the door and yanked it open. Elizabeth leaned on the ledge, her back to him. Dawn was still hours away, but there was enough light from the half-moon to allow them to see each other.
She turned. “Donovan?”
“We have to talk.”
“This isn’t a great time.”
“It never is,” Pike said.
“No, this really isn’t a great time.”
The white-garbed figures must have been concealed behind the small structure that housed the stairwell. There were five of them, all armed with automatic weapons.
“You guys seriously need to upgrade your stealth wardrobe,” Pike said.
He lunged at the closest man, swinging from the hips, and drove his fist into the center of the face. He felt a satisfying crunch as the man’s nose collapsed under the mask. In the faint light, Pike saw a dark stain spreading across the white material, even as he pulled the moaning thug in front of him. He needed a shield against the guns of the Brotherhood, and the man with the flattened nose would have to do.
One of the larger men in white charged at Pike like a linebacker. He spread his arms and launched himself into the Pike’s human shield. All three men tumbled to the rough surface of the roof. It felt like a horse had fallen on Pike. He squirmed his way from beneath the pile. The thug with the flattened nose lay on his back and moaned. The bigger man struggled to his feet. Pike kicked him in the face. He collapsed again on top of the other guy.
The other three Brotherhood agents had their guns pointed at Pike.
Why didn’t they shoot?
“Come on, you bastards,” Pike said, just before the cloth slipped over his face. It was drenched in liquid, something he barely had time to register before his consciousness drifted away.
Well, hell, he thought as the darkness enveloped him.
To Be Continued
© Mark Justice 2011