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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #62

By Mark W. Meier

Part 62

Act V

Victory


Chapter Seventeen


Ben Kiel watched the helicopter land – twenty minutes later than scheduled. When the blades slowed he walked closer.

The vehicle’s side door opened and Amy Drabbs stepped out. She ran to Kiel and gave him a big hug, even though it hurt. “I was so scared,” she said

Kiel gave an indulgent smile and tugged free of the embrace. “Why were you afraid? It’s not like you’ve survived a plane crash.”

Amy playfully punched him on the shoulder. “No, it’s not that. Something hit us over Tennessee.”

The pilot stepped from the aircraft. “Something?” He pointed to a crease in the helicopter’s skin. “Looks like a bullet did that. See that rotor?”

Kiel looked at the blades slowly rotating past. One of them was missing a significant chunk at the tip. The lawyer whistled. “Lucky to have made it.”

“Well,” the pilot said, “it was rough the last half of the trip. No worse than it was in the bad days in Kandahar, though.”

Amy was shocked. “I didn’t know.”

“Not supposed to.” The pilot shrugged. “I do my job right and my client never notices.”

“Can you fly it?” Kiel wondered what the process was. “Not that it’s any of my business, but I’m curious.”

“I’ll check with home base. Might be best to swap out the blade here at Hilton Head. If that’s not possible, I could head back to Atlanta.”

Kiel held out a hand to shake. “Good luck with that. If there’s something I could do, let me know.”

As the two walked toward the terminal, Amy asked, “What now?”

Kiel held open a glass door and guided Amy inside. “We have time to discuss things on our way to lunch, then to Grambic Tower. Victor Howe and Bob Allen want to discuss a settlement.”

***

Chamos sent messages to the Brothers under his authority. The time of reckoning was at hand, and he didn’t want to lose his advantage. “Come.” The instruction was simple.

His Brothers came.

***

Mastema woke Gavin from his nap. “It’s time.” The Brother handed Gavin a slip of paper with an address. “Take us there.”

The apprentice wizard blinked sleep from his eyes. “After I use the bathroom.”

Mastema shook his head. Humans.

***

Bathin, in the guise of Sally Shoen, suddenly appeared in Governor Rawlin’s office during a private meeting with the head of the Bar Association. “I have a request,” she said.

Both men shot to their feet, surprised by the abrupt arrival. The governor recovered first. “How did you get in here?”

“Not relevant.” Bathin placed a large briefcase with tens of thousands of fifty-dollar bills onto the governor’s desk. “I have a campaign donation. You can split it between the two of you.” Bathin popped open the lid and turned it so both men could see what it contained.

The lawyer gaped, but the governor only glanced at it before asking, “What do you want?”

“Pull Kiel’s authorization to do business in Georgia. And I want him disbarred.”

Rawlin said, “Done.”

The lawyer nodded.

The woman known as Sally Shoen vanished in a puff of ecru smoke.

***

Ruax knew Miss Sharpe was still a danger, and Chamos needed him to cover or eliminate the risk. Too many deaths would make people suspicious, so he used stolen epoxy to fasten the handset of the hotel room’s phone into its cradle.

When the attorney returned to her room, Ruax suppressed a chuckle as he jammed a stack of pennies between the door and the jamb. Then he reached into Sharpe’s cell phone and broke a couple of critical connections. Another circuit was closed, and the battery slowly lost power.

Done. Ruax went back to Savannah.

***

Baraqijal didn’t see how he could delay either Amy or Kiel. Simply flattening a tire might make them later than planned, but nothing he could do would stop them.

As soon as Baraqijal considered a multi-vehicle traffic accident, a solid line of the enemy appeared over the road into Savannah. He couldn’t even close in on Kiel’s limousine without opposition.

Frustrated, he yelled, “POP!”

The nearby enemies chuckled, but otherwise remained impassive.

Baraqijal wondered how much he’d remember after being demoted to imp.

Then he came up with an idea.

Laughing outright, he vanished. In his wake he left a percussion of collapsing air, along with his signature POP!

***

Austin finished changing into a cooler outfit – tan slacks and a white top with periwinkle trim – and headed for her door.

Odd. The handle barely moved and the latch remained closed.

She shook the door to no avail.

The pamphlet on the table next to her bed gave her the number to dial for guest services. Austin picked up the handset and the whole phone lifted with it. She growled to herself. No amount of prying separated the two.

Austin pulled out her cell phone to call the front desk. Dead. She retrieved her charger and plugged it in, then dialed the front desk. Nothing. This time a snarl of frustration.

Even though Austin knew windows in hotels had long ago been sealed against opening, she tried. She slammed a fist down on the table next to the window.

No way to call out, no way to escape, and now her hand hurt.

She wasn’t even sure Kiel would find the ruling of Sabry Mohamed Attia’s will in the Michigan appellate court. A simple LexisNexis search would probably turn it up, but he was kind of behind the times, though not exactly a Luddite.

Maybe pounding on the door would alert someone. A maintenance worker, another guest, anyone to get her out.

***

Gavin appeared in downtown Savannah on a busy street. Only he could see the ghostly figure next to him. “A parking lot? What are we doing here?”

“You missed again.” Mastema speared his apprentice with a condemning look. “Will you ever learn anything I teach you?” Mastema muttered to himself, “That’s why you should never rush the curriculum. The last wizard you trained took decades. It’s a better way, really.”

Gavin gritted his teeth. He hated being treated like an idiot, and it seemed that’s all he’d ever gotten. “Maybe I should go my own way, then.”

A pedestrian gave Gavin the same kind of look he’d gotten in Bowling Green. Again he pointed to his ear. “Cell call.”

Mastema laughed. “You’re delusional if you think this is something you can teach yourself. It takes another wizard.”

“Then where’d the first one come from?”

“Nobody knows. Some things can’t be answered.”

***

Judge Boynton picked up his office phone before the second ring. “What is it, Robin?”

“Governor Rawlin on line three.”

“Thanks.” Boynton punched one of the lighted buttons. “Boynton, Governor. How are you today?”

“Extraordinary, Your Honor. I thought I’d let you know about a development which might have an impact on a case you’re adjudicating.”

“I have dozens. Which one?”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure what the legal name of your case is, but Ben Kiel’s business license has been revoked. He’s no longer legally able to operate a law firm in the state.”

“That’s interesting.” Boynton shuffled some manila folders from one stack on his desk to another. “That would be the Grambic will lawsuit. What grounds do you have to pull his license?”

“Most of his attorneys have been disbarred, utilities haven’t been paid in months, and now there’s a charge of sexual assault.”

Boynton frowned. “Serious charges, Governor. Is that enough to put him out of business?”

“Enough for the Bar Association to vote about disbarring him.”

“That is serious.” Boynton paused to run some options through his mind. “I’m going to rule against his client anyway, so it shouldn’t have much of an impact on the case.”

“Your Honor, you are a credit to your profession.”

The judge accepted the praise with dignity. “I appreciate you saying that, Governor.”

Bathin smiled. He hadn’t even needed to “push” the judge while impersonating Rawlin.

Next up, getting Kiel disbarred.

***

Ruax appeared behind Nachell Peralta, Victor Howe’s secretary, at her desk. She played a game of computer solitaire while occasionally shifting a paper or file to make it look like she was busy.

Chamos glanced up from his video conference call with Canadian officials and grinned at his Brother. Chamos had recognized his Brother’s arrival. Ruax nodded to tell his superior that Austin was safely out of play, at least for the time being.

Ruax made a reminder on Peralta’s computer jump to the foreground. The executive assistant noticed her boss looking her way and held up a finger to indicate one hour left.

Chamos pressed a button to deactivate his microphone and said, “Thank you, Nachell.” He went back to finish his meeting.

***

Howe’s personality, while appearing to the Brother as totally resigned, gathered energy again. He knew his time would come.

Chamos only needed another hour, then he’d be firmly entrenched in a position to expand the Brotherhood’s plans.

Howe had to stop them.

Somehow.

***

Irony drove Baraqijal’s choice of murder weapon. He positioned a stone statue over the entrance to Grambic Tower.

One hour to go.


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