"I'm glad ya think so." Timothy answered. He noticed the two additional FBI agents with John had guns ready to be drawn and visible.
"What can you tell us about the latest updates?"
"Just that all sources report the same thing. Heavy artillery, guards, traps. The works. My source is convinced they won't go kindly, and that they are back in the same locale."
"How reputable is he?"
"He's an old friend, older than the hills. He's reliable: a no-nonsense type."
"Then we proceed, after formulating an attack plan. The sooner we can try and locate Thornhart, the better."
One of the agents spoke up. "What about Manning? He might have some insight into this."
John said, "I'd prefer he's not involved. Too much emotional baggage about this. He may not be able to think clearly. Besides, I promised Blair to keep him out of it."
"Hmf. Ya did, did ya?" Timothy said.
"Yeah. The day you came to the office, and she was already there. She's terrified after what happened to him last time. I've got Shaun on the case."
"I spoke to Todd, as well. I reminded him to let this go, let ya do y'ar job."
"Then it's settled, we should be clear to proceed." John said.
"If ya believe he'll listen, then yes, it's settled."
A slight rapping at the door was heard, and all of the men looked to each other. Timothy went to the door, and using the peephole, turned and said, "So much for being settled," and swung the door open, revealing Todd, standing there, with a cap pulled low over his eyes.
"Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"He was just here!" Jack said, searching all around the drawing room. Mixie circled, his tongue dangling from his mouth. "Why don't you fetch him, boy?" the teen added, jokingly.
Tina came back into the room hurriedly. "He's not in the foyer. He just took off! I mean, he's faster than lightening."
"Where's Blair?" Sister Rebecca Katherine said, walking in to the drawing room, slightly out of breath. "We can't let her know we lost the tyke."
"He's not lost, he's in the house, somewhere," Tina responded.
"He couldn't have gotten far," Jack said.
"I can'//t believe it. One minute, he was sitting on my lap, hearing a book, and the next minute . . . gone!" Tina said.
"Well, we'll find him." Jack said. "He's not in here, so let's move to another room and look there."
"If ya were a little two-almost-three year old, where would ya be?" the nun said, perching her chin in her hand.
"Where ever my little legs would carry me!" Tina said, and she was beginning to get nervous. "How will I ever explain this to my brother?"
"Let's not think about that right now," the nun added, "Let's find the little imp first."
"Do you know where he is, Mixie?" Jack asked, petting the dog. Mixie turned and walked out, looking back. "We may as well follow him."
"I thought you were not going to come into Dublin. A promise to your wife ring a bell?" John said.
"I never promised her I'd never go in to Dublin. In fact, I told her I'd bring the copter just for that purpose."
"You came in the copter?" John said, concerned it would attract attention.
"What do I look like, my sister? No. I didn't. I came here by car, and then once on the outskirts of town, by foot."
Smarter than I gave him credit for. "I would prefer that you go back, Manning." John said.
"Well, I prefer that I didn't remember what it was like being held by The Men of 21, but what does that do?"
No one responded.
Finally, one agent spoke up. "Maybe he's a good resource. Can we get information that we can use?"
John said, "Manning, I'm telling you now, you're not going in to get him. That's official FBI business."
"I might agree to that. I'm not here to break up my marriage."
All of the official personnel looked at each other. John said, "All right. We know where the catacombs begin, we know some of the passages. Thing is, we don't know exactly . . ."
"I do. I was there. No one but Patrick Thornhart and I know where that secret cell is. Can you say the same?"
"Mixie, where are ya going?" the clergywoman said, again, out of breath as they followed the dog.
Tina rolled her eyes. "He's leading us to his food bowl. Jack, you never fed him?"
"Sorry. I'll do it now," Jack said, attending to it. Both women sighed.
"My goodness, he's not in the morning room or the drawing room. Where are ya, ya little leprechaun?" Sister Rebecca Katherine asked the air.
"He's too little for the stairs. He never could have made it up there. Could he?" Tina said.
"Jack? I need something!" Sam called from upstairs.
"Not now, Runt." He called back. Returning to the foyer, he said, "Ray's not in the mudroom. But I fed Mixie."
"Well, Little Ray's a bit too small to open the door, so he has to be in the house somewhere." The nun said.
"Yeah, but where?" Tina was beginning to get worried.
"Jack!" Sam called again. "You should come up here!"
"In a minute, Squirt." Jack answered, calling up the staircase. He said, "He might be under the couch or something. Maybe he thinks it's funny to hide?"
"Probably. What a sense of humor on that little nugget," Sister Rebecca Katherine said. "I don't want y'ar mother to panic, Jack. We just have to find him. She can't for one minute think something happened to that child!"
"There's a sliding, electronic door. Like Star Trek. You can't tell it's there, unless you know. It looks like rock, blends in."
"Where on this map would you place it?"
Todd examined the map. "This map is all wrong, I can tell you that. It's missing like three levels of passages."
The men looked at each other. "How do you know that?" one of the agents asked.
"I lived it. I was there. Leona brought me there, it wasn't like I was dead. I lived there for about a week."
"Can you describe the area, the tunnel?"
"No. I was blindfolded." The men looked to each other, each in turn. Todd continued, "But I know every twist and turn. I was cuffed and blindfolded, but I know exactly how we went and in what direction. I can draw it. He gave me verbal directions as we walked. I . . . believe me, I can remember. He would push my arms or back on the side I had to move toward. The pain got associated with my recollection, I guess. I could go back and get there with my eyes closed."
John wasn't sure it was going to be as reliable as he'd hoped. He'd worked with missing persons for years, in the agency, and knew that captees could easily become confused about details. One of the agents said, "Here, then, go ahead and draw it."
After a few minutes, Todd had drawn a very crude map of the tunnels that he remembered following when lead to his intended tomb by Leona. Timothy, who was standing by, listening the whole time, said, "Son, ya done good."
There in front of them was a picture of the tunnels as Todd saw them in his mind's eye. At the end of them, he had drawn a skull and crossbones to mark the indiscriminate place he knew in his heart held Patrick Thornhart.
"Maybe we can call him for a snack or a treat?" Tina said.
"He's not Mixie," Jack added.
"He's got to be here, we just have to look harder. Let's go back to each room and check over again, every nook and cranny," the nun added.
They began in the day room, and as they passed the staircase, they heard Sam again. "Jack? Sister Becca Thrin? Somebody?"
"You gotta wait, Puny! We're busy!"
"I gotta tell you something. It's important, Jack!" Sam's little voice squeaked.
Jack made an expression of frustration, and turned to the women. "I'll go up and see what the problem is."
Meanwhile, Sister Rebecca Katherine and Tina were scouring the lower level, when Blair returned from the stables. She walked in on them as they were working in the morning room, and they both were startled to standing by her voice. "Good morning, Ladies!"
Both looked to Blair and greeted her. Sister Rebecca Katherine nervously said, "How were the horses, Dear?"
"The door is secret and it slides. If you didn't know about it, you'd never find it. Not with the naked eye. You'd almost need me to go along with you."
"No civilians. Timothy won't be coming either. It's got to be trained personnel." John said. Timothy said nothing, he stepped aside to take a phone call as the men continued hashing it out.
Todd said, "You can pull that, but I said, 'almost.' I promised Blair, and I am not going back on that promise. But, if you could take me with you, you'd be more sure of it. That's all I mean."
Timothy hung up and came closer to the group again. "Just got word. The Men of 21 are planning some kind of summit meeting tomorrow tonight. One of the men overheard and brought it to my source."
Todd swallowed. "Then you have to go in. Now. The summit means only one thing."
One of the agents responded, "We need to do more planning to protect the men who storm this place. It's filled with bombs and death traps."
John said, "Go ahead, Todd."
"When I was in there, with Leona," he said, pushing the nausea back down, "I was going to be their entertainment. They were going to swear in Hesser and the entertainment was my murder. Leona was granted the right to be the one to 'set me free.' It was going to happen that night. If you don't go in, Thornhart will be dead by tomorrow at midnight."
Your comments are 'payment' for the work of the authors. Our writers like to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment when you read.