Note that this story was formerly the bionic robot.
The Times Newspaper: December 2nd 2010
Huge Scientific Discovery Fuels
Bionic Robot Plans
Scientists have recently concluded and confirmed from eleven years of research that building a super powered bionic robot is now possible.
David Grew reports.
As the nights get colder scientists have made a revolutionary discovery. They refuse to tell the press the details but we have read between the lines of this interview with Jack Marsh.
So, Mr Marsh, what can you tell us of this amazing discovery in the field of science?
Well, we have recently completed blue prints of a bionic robot. I am afraid we cannot give you too much detail but I can tell you certain things. So, fire away.
Mr Marsh, who are the main men behind this discovery?
Well, of course, I am. And there is David Brooke, our technical advisor. John Gray our design manager and Miles Anderson, our movement structure man.
So, what is your role?
My role? Well, I am project manager, so basically everyone’s work is done apart from mine. I will be at the Jenkin’s Laboratory every day constructing the manual for the robot.
What can you tell us about this manual?
Nothing, I’m afraid. Sorry. To tell you would be to tell our rivals.
Understandable Mr Marsh. One last question. What exactly does this bionic robot do. What are its functions?
I’m afraid I can’t go into great detail on this matter but however I can assure you that it has powers above any other robot ever created due to the discovery we made.
Thank you Mr Marsh. We wish you well. Goodbye. Shaun Taylor, BBC news.
From this interview, we know we can look forward to the unveiling of the bionic robot. Will it be all Mr Marsh says it will be?
Operation Shatter Break
Operation Shatter Break Chapter 1: A Robbery
It was a dark gloomy Friday evening and Jack Marsh was finishing off a last assignment for the day. He was rushing his work, eager to get home to a quiet dinner with his wife and three children. That was when it happened. It would happen on my shift. The lights went out. Silence. Merely a power cut he hoped. He felt around for the emergency light button. He pressed it. Nothing happened. Great. Maybe not just a power cut. He sighed. Gotta ring the boss. Great. . . Waerrrrp! Electricity was back! So what had happened? He turned on the CCTV cameras. Nothing. . . Wait a sec, why are all the cameras the same? Then he knew. He was being fed a loop. Great. He switched on the security channel.
“We have an emergency! Suspected intruders in the premises . Search the building.”
Guards poured out of their leisure rooms. Typical. Just when they’re needed. Minutes later he heard a report which confirmed a theft of the bionic robot, which was under construction and old news that they had been fed a loop. Jack Marsh dialled 999 and grumpily slumped back in his chair feeling pessimistic at the prospect of a night in “Jenkins Laboratories”. Great.
The next morning Private Eye Daniel Elkins made his way to the West Middlesex Police Station. He lived in a flat very near his destination so he didn’t think of putting his thermal, bullet proof jacket on when he went out. Chiefly because he didn’t expect the weather to be nippy (thanks to the weather forecast) and also because one does not expect one to be shot when one is walking down a street in Middlesex. Big mistake. So when he did get shot, it came as a surprise to say the least. This was the reason Private Eye Nathaniel Horton went to the West Middlesex Police Station instead of the afore mentioned. Nathaniel Horton however, was clever enough to go in the car, wearing his bullet proof, thermal jacket. . .
Nathaniel Horton was extremely bored by the time Sergeant Gough called him into the Inspector’s office. The murder of Daniel Elkins had struck fear into his heart which has provoked him to eye several police officers with a frightened, suspicious look on his face. At last he was in the safe room of the Inspector and the big cheese gave him a briefing of the crime.
” A super-powered, bionic robot has been stolen from Jenkins Laboratory. I want you to investigate this. As you know, if this robot gets into the hands of another country or company the effects would be disastrous. Thankfully the thief didn’t manage to take the manual of how to use the robot away with him. So they have a robot, but they don’t even know how to turn it on. The problem is the manual is not considered safe in Jenkins Laboratories so it will have to make a journey across London, to a more secure zone. So your job is to ensure that the manual gets to its destination with no. . .” the inspector stopped to think “with no unfortunate incidents. You understand me?”
There was a pleading look on the inspector’s face.
“No one has accepted the job yet. . . all turned it down”
Incredulously Horton said,
“I guess so!” With that, he walked out of the room. Great. I’m on my own.
When Horton arrived home he sighed as he heard the phone ring. His shabby flat was a result of under paid work. He picked up the receiver and said,
“Private Eye Nathaniel Horton here!”
“Ah Horton!” it was the inspector’s voice. “I rang to say that you will have a few armed men to assist you with your manual-guarding expedition.”
“Thanks.” Horton felt a wave of relief flood over him.
“On the 23rd January at 8 o’ clock come to the Jenkins Laboratories, you will find a truck with the manual in and four unmarked police cars. In your own car drive at the head of the pack, your destination is Landsite Prison” but at that point Horton heard a knock on the door. . . and hastily said down the phone,
“Gotta go now!” the receiver was down and now it was him and the person behind the door. Why did he feel scared? Probably because his predecessor had met a sticky end.
“Come in” Horton said. . .
Horton pulled out his gun and called,
“Come in!” The door opened and a man in a tailored black suit and matching trousers entered the room. He had a scar on his upper lip and said,
“Nathaniel Horton? Would you so kindly put your gun down and act slightly sociably towards a visitor?” Horton, rather taken back by what the man said, placed the gun in his pocked and said,
“There. What is your business here my friend?”
“I know you are a private eye and I would like to call your services into action. . .” he paused as if thinking what to say next. “I understand that you are not on a particular job at the moment?”
“I’m afraid you’re wrong there, I can’t really accept the job, i have an important schedule ahead of me. Based around a job I acquired this morning.”
“Ah, I was afraid so, when are the dates of this job?” there was a sly glimmer in the man’s eye which Horton failed to spot.
“Oh, 23rd January at 8pm. At the police station. Have you heard of the bionic robot robbery from Jenkins Laboratories? Well, we have to escort the robot manual to Landsite Prison. Two days away. I am afraid I can’t accept any job offers until the end of January.”
Then he realised he’d said to much. Suddenly the lights went out! He heard the door open and slam shut. Horton felt his way to the light switch and flicked it on. He opened the door and pulled out his gun. the corridor was empty. He saw a rat scurry across the floor. He had failed, before the job has even started. How would he be able to tell the inspector? Ha! i just won’t tell him. Maybe I’ll get away with it and the thieves won’t get the manual. This seemed like a good approach to the dire situation. But he was blocking out many thoughts. What if the thieves attack the convey with more power than we could imagine? It would be all my fault.
Trying to shift the nagging thoughts out of his mind he undressed and went to bed. What a day. He slumped back and fell asleep.
The next day, Horton went down to Jenkins Laboratories to guard the manual. A whole day lay ahead, which presented plenty of time for the manual to be stolen. Horton wasn’t taking any more chances. To clear his conscience of what had happened the night before he had decided to keep the manual safe at all costs. When he was inside he sat down on a chair outside the room where the manual was being kept. Or at least where he thought the manual was being kept. He should have read his emails that morning, because he got an email saying that there was a decoy manual and a real one. Typically he sat outside the room where the decoy was kept. So when a loudspeaker boomed out saying,
“Intruders possessing the bionic robot manual on the premises , close down all exit doors!” he was completely bewildered. Then he realised the blunder he had made and groaned. He hurried off to the control centre and was briefed on where the robber was.
“Corridor B, Section A, heading for Valve 8 which leads into the Thames.” The control woman pointed to a blip on her computer. “That’s him!”
Horton raced to that part of the site. In the distance he could hear echoing gun shots. Guns. It was a long time since he’d fired his gun. When he turned the next corner he saw sandbags piled up and security guards behind them. They were training their guns at a little grey door. Just beyond that a tunnel was visible leading into the Thames. However obvious it seemed to the security guard that the man was hiding in the room behind the little grey door, Horton asked where the intruder was hiding. Before the guard could answer a gun stuck out of the door of the room and a dozen bullets whizzed over the sandbags. Horton was now crouching behind the sandbags with his gun cocked and trained on the door, looking embarrassed at his hideous failure to deduct where the intruder was.
When it had gone quiet for a few minutes a cylindrical object bounced through the tunnel opening and landed on the ground. Then suddenly it exploded and gas filled the corridor. The gas was over them, choking them. It felt like a giant’s hand was clenched on his neck. Horton struggled away gasping for breath as he saw the security guards flop down to the ground, motionless. Horton turned the corner and slumped against the wall. He slipped to the ground and blacked out. . .
An hour later he woke up in hospital.
Where am I? What on earth? The Hospital? Suddenly Horton blurted out,
“What’s happened? What about the robber?”
The inspector came into focus, clearly startled by the sudden questions.
“The robber got away. . .” he started.
“That’s terrible!” Horton looked horrified.
“Hey! I haven’t finished yet. He got away with an accomplice but was picked up by the river police. The manual is safe!”
“So, is the manual still gonna be taken to the prison?”
“Yes. The situation hasn’t changed at all. Unfortunately, you were the only survivor of the gas grenade. The others all choked to death.”
Horton was silent at this. Men had died, these robbers are ruthless. . .
It was 8 o’ clock on January 23rd as a black saloon car drew up outside Jenkins Laboratories. Private Eye Nathaniel Horton got out, feeling very important and glad that he had recovered form the gas grenade’s consequence’s. He had been anticipating this moment all day and the prospect of a drive through London in the night with possible hijackers waiting to ambush you was deliriously unnerving. He was met by the Inspector who said,
“Nathaniel Horton, good to see you. You see that truck over there? That contains the manual.” He pointed to an armoured truck about ten metres away. Four unmarked police cars lay silently by the truck with four armed police men in each car. The inspector continued,
“It will be a normal drive so long as no one hijacks you, but as you know, the thieves won’t miss an opportunity like this to nab the manual, so be extra careful! Also you have a police man to drive you so you can keep all eyes on the surroundings.” The inspector went away in his car back to the police station where he would keep radio contact with Horton at all times.
Rain splattered down as Horton got into his car, the darkness had crept in stealthily and every shadow was regarded as a possible suspect.
A minute later the convoy moved off out of the back streets of London onto a motorway with barely any cars on. Horton relaxed, his driver also looked relaxed. It was fine after all. Who could possibly ambush them now? This was a stupid question, owing to the fact that there was a forest on their left which could easily conceal a hijacker. But Horton didn’t know that because being a sensible driver he had all eyes on the road. The problem was he wasn’t the driver. So the whole point of him having a driver was gone, when the driver might as well have been stopping the local hoodlums changing signs around.
The journey went on peacefully until when the convoy got to the outskirts of Bristol, where just beyond the latter lay Landsite prison. Famous for being the only prison to keep objects not people.
WHEEPPPPP! An ear splitting screech filled their ears. Boom! The road in front of them was now a mass of rubble. Sparks lit up the road and the convoy screeched to a stop. Police piled out of their cars, immediately under fire from the people concealed in the forest. Horton frozen with fear had to be shaken by his driver to get out, even though the noise was enough to wake a hedgehog from hibernation. Bullets were whistling all over the place. Suddenly police men from two of the cars fired at the other police men killing the majority. Traitors! How’d they manage that? Horton, his driver and a couple of others crouched behind the truck. As shots rang out they realised they were in a desperate situation. Then a huge explosion shattered the windows of all the cars. Suddenly they were engulfed in blackness. The truck was tipping over.
Chapter 2: The Decoys
Horton and his driver dived out of the range of the falling truck and watched in horror as their comrades were flattened by it. Horton and his driver were now lying behind the fallen truck peeping round the sides and watching the proceedings. Men were coming out of the forest shouting,
“They must all be dead now, go and get the manual. Hehe, the boss will be pleased!”
Horton and his driver flattened themselves again the metal top of the truck as the men crawled in and took the manual out.
“Hahahahahahahaha! We’ve got it! Let’s go. The coppers will be along soon.” a man growled, seemingly the leader of the hijackers. Horton and his driver made a dash for it when they thought the men weren’t looking, and were spotted by a gunman, who let fly a burst of bullets and Horton and his driver ducked and dived into the bushes. They were safe. Then they heard another voice,
“What! They are still alive? Go get. . .” he broke off as a siren came into hearing, “Boys! “Run for it, it’s the police!” Cars were revved up and the two hiding men were forgotten as the hijackers zoomed off in their vehicles, in the opposite direction of where the sirens were coming from, over the destroyed road and down the motorway towards Bristol, with the manual.
Horton and his driver pushed themselves out of the dense forest. Horton’s imagination had rather got the better of him as he thought a harmless grass snake was the Basilisk from Harry Potter.
Two police cars rolled up and the Inspector and four other police men got out.
“Which way’d they go?” asked the Inspector.
“That way!” Horton pointed over the wrecked road. “To Bristol! And they have the manual. Horton was expecting the Inspector to give him a hard time about not getting the manual safely to its destination. But no, the Inspector merely said to his men,
“After them see if you can catch them, you probably won’t but you never know! Come with me Horton, and you too Davies!” he signalled the driver Davies, to get into the driving seat. Horton and the Inspector got into the back seats.
The car revved and they were off back to London. When they were nearly there, the Inspector said,
“I have something to tell you!” Horton looked at the Inspector interested.
“You see, the convoy you were with had a decoy manual, not the real one so. . .” Horton said, his eyes round in astonishment at what the Inspector said,
“What? People have died, and all for a decoy! So I take it the manual is safe in Landsite prison?”
“It is!”replied the Inspector.
“Well I’ll be. . .” Horton was disgusted at the way the lives were lost for a decoy. Insanity.
The Inspector seeing the disapproving look on Horton’s face explained,
“Put it this way. If they had hijacked the real manual, the same number of people would have died, but the manual wouldn’t have got safely to Landsite prison, and goodness knows how the hijackers would use the robot. But this way, the manual is safe, unfortunately some people died, but if they had the robot, as I have said before, they would probably use it to kill people, to turn this world into turmoil, the strongest banks would be as easy to get into as the sum one plus one is easy to do.”
An old farm stood creaking in the wind on a blustery night near Bristol. Rain splattered down but that didn’t change the moods of about twenty men who were downing a pint after successfully capturing the manual to the famous bionic robot. Suddenly a man called Ben who was in particularly high spirits said,
“Lads! Let’s go get that manual and raid a house. What d’ya say?” This suggestion was greeted by many other drunks as the best idea ever thought of. But their boss Elwan Dupona rubbished the idea,
“Har har. That’s sure to work!” His voice heavy with sarcasm. “The police will be swarming all over the place at the moment and those guys who were hiding in the bushes will have given a description of us to the police. We need to lay low for a bit and then start our raids.” As this suggestion was thrown back in his face by the fact that a couple of tables were overturned and a riot ensued, he decided to give the robot a go at beating up that fool Ben.
“Ok ok lads, we’ll give it a go at beating up Ben!” this was followed by a “three cheers for the boss” shout and Ben getting caught and held in place by a about a dozen men.
“Guys! I was only joking, but we’ll see if we can get it to do something. Jed, go get the manual. Sid, George the robot.”
The men bustled off to their errands and Ben was released reluctantly by some hollering men.
A minute later the men came back. The robot at first sight astounded everyone. Awe set in and silence took hold. Machine-guns fitted on each arm, window cutter inside the metal innards and everything you would need for army action and fortunately for the robbers, thieving action. Jed said,
“This is the on button!” he said, pointing to a big red button. ” I think. . .” he was unsure but seeing as he couldn’t read, the words “emergency attack button” didn’t mean much to him. He pressed it and immediately the robot lit up and swept Jed off his feet, he thudded heavily into the wall and lay unconscious on the floor. The rest of the men fled for the door just as the robot opened fire and shredded the wooden walls to pieces. Ben was hit and lay injured on the floor as the roof came crashing down. Jed and Ben were buried.
Dupona yelled while running to safety,
“That must have been the wrong button, it was a decoy, the real one’s probably safe!” he ducked as a bullet whistle over his head and hit another man who screamed and flopped down dead. Unknown to the robot who was charging after the men all guns ablaze, Sid had sneaked round behind the robot and was running after it straining to reach another button on the back of the robot. he made a dive and caught hold of the button. He pressed it and the robot suddenly stopped on the stop where it stood motionless. All the men stopped running and turned round.
“Three cheers for Sid!” shouted Dupona. The men followed suit. They all cheered and ran to congratulate Sid. Then they remembered Jed and Ben under the rubble. . .
Landsite prison in many ways was like a normal prison. Big concrete wall round the edge with metal spikes on top to make climbing onto the roof , a near impossible task. A big black gate with security guards milling around with guns. A dome shaped roof which was covered in slippery grease. So how did the thieves get in to get the real manual? Well, you’re about to find out. Just remember the fact that this was England and it rains all the time.
Elwin Dupona’s car drove silently down the streets near Landsite Prison and when the bend leading to the road up to the Prison loomed near, he got out accompanied by his men. Ben and Jed were dead. Should he risk more lives for a robot. Yes, should. Wearing black coats, they walked up the road to the prison. Suddenly search lights flashed on them and a voice boomed out,
“Stop now! You are in the prison zone, please identify yourself.”
Dupona yelled back at the wall where the voice seemingly came from,
“We are potential buyers of the Quarenta Crystal. We saw the sign and apparently we can come and look at it.”
“Proceed!”said the voice from the wall.
They walked up to the door, which suddenly swung open. Men with machine guns pointed their weapons at them. . .
Meanwhile round the other side of the prison. Jim and Ron were attempting to throw a rope ladder on to the spikes on the wall. The designers hadn’t thought of the fact that the spikes would help robber get in. At last it worked. Jim sniggered when he thought of the decoy trick they were repaying the police with. While Dupona distracts the guards, we’ll be in there and out before he’s had a chance to knock on the door. Hehe.
They were now on the dome roof climbing up towards the highest point. The rain had washed the grease off and no one had replaced it. At the top they found a trap-door leading into the room where the manual was being kept. I think it is time to give a little description of this room.
A 100 metres down from the roof, this room was meant to be the maximum security room. But the thing is, no one thought of the trapdoor, because it was so high up. Who would attempt such a daring stunt. No one other than Jim and Ron. Also the positioning of the guards was favourable to the slip down on a rope break-in. They were positioned facing away from the manual, spread all around it. So this was a routine job for Jim and Ron, just a bit higher than usual.
Jim tied the rope to himself and Ron grabbed hold of the rope the other end. Jim then lowered him down through the trap door, which of course was unlocked. Silently Ron landed on top of the glass cabinet which contained the manual. After this robbery a bank manager was heard to say,
“If those loonies had an alarm I would have a million more pounds than I have now.” take a guess why that was soon to be the case. Maybe you’ll just have to read on. Anyway back in Landsite Prison, Ron was using glass cutters to steal the manual out of the cabinet. He was extremely successful. The guards continued staring away from the manual while Ron was pulled back up the ladder. At the top they climbed down from the hatch and to where their rope ladder was. Five minutes later Ron was having a pint in Jim’s car. But unfortunately for the latter he had to wait till he got back to the farm.
Inside the prison, Dupona and his men were being escorted to the Quarenta crystal’s prison room when a security man rushed out of a room at the side and with a face as white as snow he exclaimed,
“Dunno how. But the manual’s gone.” The man in charge said to Dupona,
“You’ll have to come back another time!” A security guard hurriedly ushered them out of the big gate of Landsite Prison. Dupona walked down the road towards his car, with an evil smile on his face. . .
Chapter 3: A Series Of Robberies
Private Eye Nathaniel Horton was in the office of the Inspector talking over the robbery of the manual.
“So many lives were lost in that manual-guarding expedition, and now it’s all been thrown away.” raged Horton, angry at the Landsite Prison guards.
“I know, I know.” calmed the Inspector, he too in a bad mood. “ I wonder what they’ll do next?”
“Probably give it to another country for a ton of paper notes!” replied Horton. “We don’t have any leads to any men at all.”
“That’s where you’re wrong!” said the Inspector. “You heard of Elwin Dupona?”
“No, should I have?” answered Horton.
“Well, listen to this! At the time of the robbery, a man called Elwin Dupona and four others went to Landsite Prison to inquire about the Quarenta Crystal at the same time as the robbery may have happened. Now, we reckon all this was a decoy for some chap to get in and nab the manual. Elwin Dupona lives on a farm out in the country. We have no evidence at all that he organised the theft of the manual. We searched the farm and no one’s finger prints matched the ones on the cabinet in Landsite Prison. But they could easily have been hiding elsewhere. But still, we have no proof that Dupona has anything to do with this at all. We reckon that who ever has the manual/robot, will lie low for a day or two and then rob some banks. High security banks, because that robot can not be spotted on camera. Well it can, but it has the skill to not get spotted though. So you need to watch the major banks for a bit. We have an eye on Dupona of course, but it could be anyone.”
Private Eye Nathaniel Horton was convinced that with such a high powered robot the robbers would target The Bank Of London. So naturally Horton was lying on a grassy verge on the opposite side of the road that ran alongside the bank, observing cars going by with binoculars. The stream of traffic that seemed to go along the roads of London 24/7 was obscuring his view. But as you know, he is not the cleverest of all Detectives. So this suited him. When he got a glimpse of the door everything was quiet and normal. The solid metal door was closed and two security men stood watching the traffic. Horton therefore deduced that nothing was going to happen that night. And for once he was right.
When Horton got home that night, he got a phone call which told him that Archer Bank had been robbed successfully. Over a million pounds had been taken. They still had absolutely no idea who had the robot. So Horton knew he needed to thunk hard. Where would they rob next. He looked up the world’s most secure banks on the internet. In England where he was there were plenty of banks. He made plans of what bank to watch. But this research got him nowhere when something happened the next morning.
The phone rang in Horton’s flat. Oh, too early in the morning. Horton got out of bed and reluctantly answered the phone. It was the Inspector and he had something important to say,
“Horton!! Drop everything! Pack yourself a bag for a couple of weeks, bearing in mind cold weather and head over to the docks. You’ll be going on a ship to France. All details there. See ya soon.” The phone was put down at the other end. Horton sighed. What now?
Ten minutes later Private Eye Nathaniel Horton was driving along the A4 to Pool Docks. He was silently contemplating a trip to France. How on earth could the robot business take him to France?
Horton arrived outside gate one leading to Dock 7. The Inspector had rung him on his mobile, when he was driving, telling him where to go.
People bustled all around him. The general flow was taking them towards a massive ocean liner. He could see the Inspector pushing through the crowd to get to him. He spoke quickly,
“Dupona is going to France. He has a big package with him and we suspect it’s the robot. Follow them to France and try and get the robot back. They might try robbing banks in France. Good luck. Oh yeah. . . he has a couple on henchmen with him, so be careful. But remember, this is our biggest lead.” At that moment a steward from the ship shouted,
“All aboard to France, all aboard!” Horton hurried up the gangplank followed by some emotional people leaving their loved ones behind. As Horton took the final step off the gangplank onto the ship he just knew something was going to happen. And he wasn’t going to like it one bit. He just knew it.
Ten minutes later Horton stood holding on to the metal bars of the stern of the ship watching the beautiful wake of the ship drift away. The waves rolled peacefully hitting the side of the ship. Romantic couples stood together watching some motor boats whiz around about thirty metres below them. All was calm. All was serene and gentle. But Horton knew that he wasn’t here for the leisure ride. He had to find Dupona and his men’s cabin. There was definitely something strange about Dupona. Generally, people owning farms don’t go and random trips abroad. But that was generally. But still, farmers aren’t usually rich. But Horton didn’t imagine that cows and sheep were kept there. That wasn’t what was in the package. It had to be the robot. And it would be he, Private Eye Nathaniel Horton to take the credit. But Dupona wasn’t to be underestimated. No. He was a nasty piece of work and Horton intended to bring him down to earth. But cautiousness would have to be his new motto because he didn’t want to get into any scraps with those “henchmen”.
The next morning Horton woke up with a start. He was on ship and he had had a dream last night. Now what was it about. Oh yes. I have an idea of how to get into Dupona’s cabin. He knew from an hour’s snooping the previous night that Dupona had his own separate cabin from his men. That was just perfect for his plan.
Ten minutes later a steward walked carefully towards cabin 18 with a tray of breakfast for the occupant Elwin Dupona. He had a ginger moustache and hair to match it. As his hands weren’t available he had to call out,
“Breakfast. Shall I come in sir?” A voice from inside the cabin answered,
“Yes, come in.” The handle turned and the steward walked in and placed the tray down on Dupona’s bedside table.
“Here’s your breakfast and you need to pay for the extra sugar you ordered sir!”
“Ah, yes.” Dupona reached into his pocket and fumbled about. Suddenly the steward brought a black bar out from his pocket and hit Dupona on the head. He fell onto his bed. Then if anyone had been watching they would have been immensely surprised, because at that moment the steward ripped off his moustache and pulled off his hair. But don’t be too shocked because the “hair” was a wig and the moustache was a false one. And it also seemed that he was getting undressed. But he revealed a jacket underneath with trousers. Horton was pleased. His plans didn’t usually work like this. He knew what he was looking for. The robot wouldn’t be here. That would be safe elsewhere, probably guarded by Dupona’s henchmen. But the manual would quite possibly be here. His plan could have been abruptly halted if he hadn’t heard the footsteps outside the door. He rushed to the door and locked it. He heard a voice outside, malicious hardened by his work,
“Boss? I come in?” he spoke in words with no more than one syllable. Horton disguised his voice and said gruffly,
“Nah, in ’bout an hour.” He heard footsteps gradually getting quieter. He was safe. Now to search the room. He pulled open the draws and looked in. Nothing. He looked under the small bed. Ah ha. A small book with “classified” written on it in small black letters lay there, seemingly discarded. He picked it up and turned the pages. Yes, it was the right one. He knew Dupona would be coming round any time soon and he placed the manual back where it was. He knew a lot. But he still wondered why Dupona would come to France with the robot. Was there more money in France. Even though that was probably true he was sure there was another fiendish reason. And he Private Eye Nathaniel Horton intended to find out.
He took one last look to make sure the room was neat and tidy as it was and he opened the door and walked out towards his cabin. Thankfully no one was watching because a person walking out of a cabin with a steward’s uniform and wig and moustache would have been incredibly surprised. But Horton didn’t think of that. So it was an amazingly good thing he was not seen. Horton proceeded to the edge of the ship. The wind was howling like a man being tortured. Horton looked around. He couldn’t see anybody. So he dropped his disguise into the sea. Feeling satisfied he retired to his cabin for a rest.
The next morning Horton was walking across the deck of the ship when a voice boomed out from the speakers.
“Hello! This is the Captain speaking. I’m afraid I have grave news for you all. Fortunately, we are not running out of fuel or anything like that. But last night one of our passengers, Mr Dupona was attacked in his cabin. A middle-height man who was believed to be disguised in a steward’s uniform hit him over the head while “delivering” breakfast. Two other noticeable features are his ginger hair and moustache. Please, if you see this man, contact me. He is believed to still be on this ship. No reasons are knows for the attack. Thank you.” Horton felt scared after this announcement. He wasn’t used to being the criminal. The hunted man. But surely they wouldn’t have any idea that it was him? Would they? He looked around. People were continuing with what they were doing. Some enjoying the view of the sea, others merely daydreaming, thinking about the Captain’s message. Horton glimpsed somebody staring at him. The person turned their head away quickly as if to avoid being seen. Horton just knew the man was watching him. Was it Elwin Dupona? No. He was far too short. The man walked off. Did someone know it was him, the steward? Then it struck him. It could be one of Dupona’s men! Horton quickly crept after the man. He must find out who he was. He was wearing a small tweed jacket and jeans. He had something in his pocket which made him look irregular and deformed. The short man walked on and suddenly turned into an area Horton had never been before. No wonder because it said Private in small black letters on an equally small door.. Horton hurried after him. As he went in he saw panelled walls and a dimly lit corridor stretching in front of him. Where had the man gone? Into one of the rooms on his left? No, he must have gone on. Horton thought he saw a glimpse of him turning the corridor. Then suddenly the man came back into view. He was holding a gun and he calmly said,
“Follow me.” Horton followed as the man went back out the way he came. Back into the sun shine. Nearly back into freedom. The man said to him,
“You walk in front of me and remember any false moves and I shoot you. This gun is fitted with a silencer.” They walked on together past other people who couldn’t see the gun in the man’s hand in his pocket. A plan formed in Horton’s mind. He knew what he had to do. Before getting kicked out of detective school he had learnt one very useful thing. And he was about to prove that the one lesson he had been paying attention to was karate. Suddenly Horton fell backwards onto the man, elbowing him in the stomach, winding him. Horton and the man were both down. Horton swung his fist round making contact with him and sending him flying. People turned in horror, watching the fight. Horton had the upper hand but the man quickly recovered. He dived for the gun, kicking out at Horton at the same time. He hit his chin and Horton staggered back and fell over. All the people were goggling at this but that all turned to insane fear. Mothers started screaming. Children howled and the fathers shrunk back. All apart from a little boy with a toy gun who said,
“Mummy, me’ll shoot him. He pulled the trigger. Crack! The man slumped back as a bullet hit him between the eyes. He did not have a chance at all. Everyone were dumbfounded. Horton was amazed. What had just happened? Horton picked himself up and briefly said to the waiting crowd,
“That man was dangerous, I think he was the steward.” Horton very well knew he was lying but that would clear his name and also answer people’s question’s about why two men were fighting on a perfectly normal ship, on a perfectly normal journey to France. Two stewards rushed up and exclaimed,
“What on. . .” Horton interrupted and said,
“Ask them!” he pointed to the watchers who were still gaping at the little boy.
Chapter 4: A Pause For You To Get Your Breath Back
At this point you are probably reading this book thinking how on earth did a toddler with a toy gun kill a man with a real gun? Well, the simple answer is, it was the other way round. Thankfully, it was the other way round, or you might now be checking the football scores instead of reading this thriller. You see, the toddler had had a toy gun with him and being a toddler he threw his toy gun down and went to look for something else to wreck. Completely oblivious of the fact that two men were throwing punches at each other he just happened to find the real gun. He played around with it, trying to figure out how it worked. He eventually found out and wanted to show his mother how his new toy worked. However, his mother was in hysterics and didn’t care about what she thought her child was playing with. But that was because she thought her child was holding a toy gun not a real gun. So the toddler decided to catch his mothers attention and he shouted,
“Mummy, me’ll shoot him.” That was soon to be a phrase in history called the “rebellious child” statement. So the toddler shot just as the short man was tightening his grip on the trigger of the (you guessed it), toy gun. And yes, this toddler was the youngest killer in the world, beating the record set by a four year old who dropped a watermelon on his mother’s head.
This led to many inquiries but the Inspector hushed it all up. But now Elwin Dupona knew who the man to watch was, but also Horton knew that Dupona did have the robot. Or why else would he get someone to kill Horton? Horton retired to his room for the rest of the trip and received his meals in his cabin. He knew that Dupona would try and kill him. But that would be later, when they had docked. Now he thought, is a time to think. And think he did.
Elwin Dupona and two men sat deep in thought. They knew who had killed Miles. But they didn’t know how to kill his killer. Dupona suddenly said,
“I know, we should put poison in his food. Ha!” All three of them knew it would be hard because Horton received his food in his cabin. Then surprisingly Jed, not the brightest of all people spoke up,
“Hey Dup, how ’bout one of us dresses up as the cook and puts the stuff in then.” Dupona remained silent and then exclaimed,
“Got it!” Jed and the other man looked up. “Tonight we pay a visit to the cook. Well done Jed. This is a first. I’ll explain. . .”
Meanwhile Horton was in a bad mood. There were thugs trying to kill him and his cabin was considerably hotter than he would have liked. But he supposed he’d rather be far too hot than dead on the floor with a bullet through his head. He hadn’t worked out what Dupona wanted to do with the robot. He had called the inspector telling him all that had happened but unfortunately there was no proof that Elwin Dupona was behind any of it. So, as far as the “big cheese” was concerned, somebody had been killed on a ship in mysterious circumstances. And that was the end of it.
By this time you are wanting something interesting to happen. Well, you’re in luck my friend. . .
Chapter 5: A Bit Of Disguising Never Harmed Anyone
Elwin Dupona walked stealthily up to a cabin door. This happened to be the cabin of the cook. This particular cook had a wife and three children. He owned a fairly small house in London and worked hard to support his family. Right then, he was fast asleep, dreaming of being back home. But unfortunately he will never see his children again. Or his wife. Or ever sit down for a Sunday roast again. He would never please anyone with his cooking again.
Dupona, being a professional criminal for years had learned to break in to almost everywhere possible. He was brought up in London in the late seventies. At the age of seven he was helping his father rob banks. Unfortunately his father was killed by a notorious criminal “The Fence” when the crime master was dissatisfied. Picking locks was-in his opinion- the easiest thing on earth to do. Dupona produced a wire from his pocket and pushed it into the keyhole and squeezed it against the side of the opening. It now only required a few twists and the door would be open. Scratch. Squeek. It was open. Carefully he pulled the door towards him. He stuck his head through the door. Good. The cook was sound asleep. Dupona looked around. Fairly normal cabin. The book shelf was laden with cooking books and was probably going to fall with the weight soon. But Dupona didn’t care. He reached his hand into his pocket and brought out a small bottle. A label on the side read,
“Potassium Cyanide. Warning Toxic.”
Dupona gently opened the cook’s mouth. A drop of this stuff and the cook would die instantly. Drip. Suddenly the cook had a spasm and lay still. He was dead. Dupona lifted the cook into his arms and walked out of the cabin. He reached the side of the ship and heaved the cook over board. Au revoir. Dupona went back into the cook’s cabin and shut the door. Putting the poison down safely because he was going to need it later, he turned the lock and lay down in the bed. He set the cook’s alarm clock for 4 o’clock. Two hours before everyone woke up. He would put his disguise on then.
Horton was hungry. He had just woken up and was feeling tired. He wondered when the cook would come with his breakfast. Knock knock. Ah ha. Mmm. That does smell good. The door opened and the cook walked in. His big red moustache and beard seemed to fit in with his plump body. Strangely, he didn’t seem too fat that morning. He must just be wearing thinner clothes. The cook put the food down on the bedside table and said,
“As you ordered sir.” The cook left the room, but he didn’t go far. He flattened himself against the wall and listened carefully.
“Mmm, eh, ach, gagggg, belch, ahhhhhh!” The cook heard Horton’s body slump against the wall.
Mission accomplished. Dupona-I’m not going to call him “the cook” any more- opened the door and looked in. Horton was lying on the floor foaming at the mouth. Now came the bit he wasn’t looking forward to. He picked up the body and kicked the door open. Oh, darn it. A man was walking past the door. Dupona quickly slammed the door shut. And the door got a quizzical look form the passer-by. Dupona opened the door once more and sneaked out. He hoisted the body over the side of the ship and walked away. He heard a splash. So simple. Someone shouted,
“Man over-board!” Or not. Suddenly there was a panic on deck, stewards charging to the life boats shoving people out of the way. Dupona knew he had to get out of here fast. He ran to his men’s room and shouted,
“Get the robot, quick and scram.”
“Er, boss!”said Jed. “I’ve got something to tell you.”
“What?” Dupona sounded stressed.
“Erm, well, I wanted to know what potassium cyanide was, so I took it to look at it. I swapped it for another bottle which was in your cupboard so you wouldn’t notice. But I thought you’d already used the potassium stuff. I didn’t know you were gonna use it twice.” Dupona was silent. Then his face went red with anger. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun. Bam! A bullet hit Jed between the eyes.
“That’ll teach him not to be a twit.”raged Dupona. Ben was staring on amazed. Crumbs, from now on, I’ll be jolly careful what I do. Dupona spoke again.
“That other stuff was a sleeping helper for me, liquid morphine. The water will wake him up.”
“Boss!” Ben sounded scared. “How ‘we gonna get out of here.”Dupona always had something up his sleeve and said,
“I’ll call S-309. I think it’s in the British Channel at the moment.” He reached into his pocket and brought out a phone. He dialled a number and soon he said into the receiver,
“E-D calling, come and get me. It’s a good thing we thought this might happen.” Dupona stopped speaking but evidently someone was speaking down the other end. “That’s settled then,” Dupona said suddenly. He put the phone back in his pocket and said,
“Head to the stern with the robot and manual. They’ll pick us up there.”
A minute or two later anyone who looked over the side of the ship would have been immensely surprised to see a submarine surface. They would be even more surprised to see a retractable ladder being sent up and two men climbing down with a huge package shared between them. But yes, you guessed it. It was Elwin Dupona and Ben Smith. A hatch opened in the top of the submarine and a man got out. He was a hardened sailor and was beckoning for the two men to hurry up. He wore a blue jersey and matching trousers and if you looked closely, you could probably make out grey wisps of hair sticking out form under his sailor’s hat. You may be thinking that this guy is from the Royal Navy. But I’m afraid you’re wrong. This man was Vladimir Krushver the Commander of the Russian Army. Nobody knew that this “honourable” man would be in league with robbers. But then nobody knows everything.
An hour later Private Eye Nathaniel Horton lay in bed with an oxygen mask sealed on his face. He was alive. . .
Chapter 6:The Paris Palaver
Elwin Dupona was feeling grumpy. The reason he was feeling grumpy was because of the poor standard of his hotel. He looked around him. Tatty metal beds with a thin mattres and torn red duvet. Floor of rotting wood, which he suspected that he would fall through one day and land on someone’s head, the floor below. The ceiling was filthy, covered with cobwebs and water was dripping down, splatting on the floor. But the worst thing about this room, was not really to do with this room. It was Ben. He grunted and snored at night, making sleep impossible. He insisted on getting up early to wash his face. And it was amazingly infuriating when he started ranting on about “the old days” and besides all of that, when Dupona tried to get him thinking about how to find Horton, he would turn the subject to dinner that even (if you could call it dinner). He seemed to enjoy sleeping in an utterly disgusting place, but that was because if Ben were a room, he’d look exactly like the small hotel room he and Dupona were sleeping in. I think we should leave Dupona and Ben to argue and see what Horton was getting up to.
Horton was feeling pleased. He had somehow outwitted his enemies who had miraculously escaped from the ship without being spotted by anyone but an old lady who claimed she had seen them getting into a submarine. Ridiculous. Or was it? You never know what Dupona will get up to next.
Horton wanted to go outside. He was staying in a hotel room which was roughly the same a Dupona’s. Enough said. Horton slipped into his coat and walked through the crowded lobby of
“L’Hôtel Deluxe”, or at least it claimed it was. He was outside, he breathed in fresh air. That was if there was any left it the world. Cars whizzed past, driving on the opposite side of the road. Crazy. What will they get up to next? Down the road Horton could see a cafe. He walked towards it as a group of French children buzzed past his babbling away. Sigh. Now where on earth is Dupona. He would have to think on it. Horton sat down on one of the metal chairs round a small square table. Using his scratchy French he ordered a coke and an “escargot sandwich deluxe”. Boy, they do like the word “deluxe” here, don’t they? YUCH. This must be organic coke. He tipped away into a gutter. The French waiter stared at him in disgust. Horton carefully bit into the sandwich. Right, nice bread. Then he took a bite further in, where the sandwich was packed with the filling, whatever that was. Munch. Crunch. Squelch. Gagg. . .
“Eecchhhh!” Horton spat on the floor and threw the sandwich in a nearby bin. He knocked his chair back angrily and stalked off down the street. Once again, the waiter looked on open-mouthed. Boy did she have something to tell her baby brother that night. Spitting foreigner. She might even get the local newspaper to publish it.
Horton walked on past rows of shops and people squawking away in a garble of French words. Then he saw someone out of the corner of his eye. Was that Ben, Dupona’s best henchman? Ben was walking swiftly through the crowds of people on the pavement. Horton followed. He had not seen his face yet and wasn’t sure if it was Ben. He was heading into a pedestrianized zone. Horton pushed on, momentarily losing Ben in the swathes of people milling around aimlessly as is a seemingly common French custom. Then suddenly Horton saw Ben again. He had turned into a run down pub called,
“La Voiture et le Démarreur”. Translate that into English and you get,
“The Car and Starter” Cor these French really are bonkers. Or maybe it’s just that we are. As Ben turned in Horton had got a glimpse of his face and he was dead certain that this man was Ben.
Horton followed him in, cautiously. . .
Private Eye Nathaniel Horton found himself in a dingy room which smelt wholly of wine and other alcoholic beverages. A number of sailors sat round a small hexagonal table, downing a pint. At another table a drunkard was moaning to the innkeeper and trying to pull the beer out of his hand. There was no sign of Ben. Maybe he had gone up the stairs behind the “counter”. Maybe he was staying there. Horton suddenly realised he was drawing attention to himself. He was distinctly out of place. Mainly in his clothes but also his actions. He was staring around, taking in the smells and sounds like a dog. Gradually every eye in the room were fixed on him. All scornful. The drunk got up and slobbered,
“’O d’ya fink you are, eh? You. . .posh little. . .”Wow, he speaks English. Horton was thankful when the man past out. But his troubles weren’t over yet. One of the sailors pushed his chair back and garbled something in French at him. It didn’t sound good. Then in broken English he said,
“You,well dressed . . . monsieur petit.” He switched from English to French rapidly. Then suddenly Horton realised that the man was huge. Massive in fact. If Horton had been one of the other sailors he would have known that this man’s custom was to call someone small. But he didn’t. Horton was petrified. And then that fear turned to astonishment when the big man turned to the innkeeper, who was trying to wake the drunk up, and said,
“Boison” To Horton this sounded like poison and he drank away into the corner. Then when the innkeeper produced a drink Horton said,
“Non, monsieur, boison,mise à mort” Horton only knew a little bit of French. The innkeeper, amused said,
“Non monsieur, boison, er, means? Oui, mean drink.”
“Ah!” Horton grabbed the glass and sipped it. Euch! But to be . . . nice he drank on.
“Cost?” Horton queried.
“Means?” the innkeeper looked puzzled. He obviously didn’t know what “cost” meant. Horton delved into his pocket and pulled out a Euro.
“Cost.” The innkeeper now evidently understood and said,
“Non, non cost. On. . . la maison.” Horton smiled. Suddenly a man walked past the counter and into the pub area. He looked around. The shopkeeper exclaimed.
“Ben! Bonjour, comment ca va?” Ben said,
“Er, comme ci comme ca.” Ben’s French was poor. Horton tried to keep to the shadows but Ben eventually saw him. He looked stunned. He said to the innkeeper,
“What is this man doing here?” The shopkeeper was confused, he shrugged as if to say, “what does that mean?” Ben swung round and headed back the way he came from. Back up the stairs. Probably back to Dupona. Time to scram. Horton hastily muttered,
“Au revoir.” and ran out of the door. He could hear feet clumping down the stairs quickly. Just as he turned onto the street he looked back and saw Dupona and he was holding a mini pistol with a silencer fitted.
Horton raced on, pushing through crowds of people queuing up to get into a shop. If they follow me and find where I am staying. Horton gulped. Soon he was in a deserted area. If Dupona came round the corner and saw him he would be a sitting duck, waiting to be picked off. Suddenly Horton stopped. There was Ben holding a machine gun ahead of him. Horton turned back and then stopped. Dupona was there with his silenced pistol. Would they kill him or capture him? Bullets rattled off the cobbled road. Guess that’s a “kill him”. Horton looked to his left quickly. He saw a wet, infested alley. It was his only option. He ducked some bullets and rolled safely into the alley! He was surprised he hadn’t been hit but he carried on running away. Then he noticed something on the ground. What was it? A man hole cover. Ben and Dupona had not yet turned the corner, but Horton knew they must now be inches away! Inches away from his death. He knew he had to. Carefully he pulled at the ring on top of the cover. Ach, it’s jammed. Horton pulled and pulled. Ah it’s open. Horton went flying backwards when the cover came loose. There was the small hole to freedom. Unfortunately for him, at that very moment Dupona turned the corner. A bullet whistled over Horton’s head as he levered himself into the hole. Horton would most probably be dead if Dupona hadn’t run out of bullets. But Dupona didn’t put new bullets in. He ran towards Horton. And he had a sharp double edged knife in his hand. Horton was moments away from being through and safe. Dupona saw that he would not get there in time so he flung the knife straight at Horton. But Horton was through. Machine gun bullets pounded the walls of the houses. Ben had turned the corner. Too late, my friend.
Horton looked around. Water was dripping away forming a puddle which was about an inch high. He was in a very cramped space and he knew he had to keep moving. Horton could see a narrow tunnel stretching away from him. Pipes lined the side and he could barely fit through. But Horotn knew if he hanged around, Ben would stick his machine gun in and Horton would be shredded. Through Horton went, dodging worms. Horton was crawling. When he had put the sign up on the door, stating that he was a Private Eye, he had thought of Hercule Poirot who always ended up in a comfortable chair talking to the “witness” and miraculously saying,
“It was him”, pointing at the butler. Horton didn’t expect to be crawling through eerie tunnels with gunmen on his trial. On Horton went, wondering whether Dupona had followed him. Evidently not as no bullet whistled down the tunnel landing in his posterior. Suddenly they tunnel widened the height increased. Horton stood up. Ahhh. It did wonders to his aching back. Then to his complete and utter relief he saw another man hole, similar to the one that he had entered the passage in. Horton pushed up the cover and heaved himself out. Ah, the fresh air. Yes, he had no idea where he was, but at least he wasn’t dead.
Chapter 7: Off To Italy
Vladimir Krushver paced up and down the large hall in Piceloni, Italy.
“Dupona, you say that the bionic robot is so great. I want proof. I have spent millions on this operation. I warn you, if it is. . .”he paused to think, “not satisfactory, you may well wish you never met me.” Dupona, however didn’t seem shaken by this comment.
“Your wish is my command Vlad.” Dupona pressed a button on a small remote control in his hand.
Two huge ivory doors swung open. The robot stomped in.
“So!” Dupona said, “What first.”
“Guns!” said Vladimir almost instinctively. “Yes, I think I’ll see the guns. You see, there’s annoying detachment of Kazakhstan soldiers who are in the south of Russia. They are not the official Kazakhstan army but rebels who want their own land.”
“Shall we go then.”
An hour later a Mercedes roared down the Enolachti road which leads to the San Thaitro airport, the biggest airport in Italy.
“When we get to San Thaitro airport, we will catch a plane to central Russia. There we will be picked up by my deputy.” Seeing the worried look on Dupona’s face he reassured him,
“Yes, he’s in with us too. In fact he’s the one who supplied your friend Ben with the machine gun. Oh yeah, where’s Ben at the moment.”
“Ben? He’s doing a little job for me. Involves the snoopy detective guy. Nearly shot ‘im in a gun chase, pity ‘e got away.” The conversation ended at that. Silence ruled until they arrived at the airport.
Horton walked out of the hotel. Ahh. ‘S good to be up. Horton was starving. He had had a horrific night’s sleep, constantly worrying about Dupona and Ben. Had he managed to give them the slip. Would they harm him? Horton put all these troubles behind him and enjoyed a croissant at a nearby French breakfast stall. The day was young and Horton knew he had plenty of time to get after Dupona that day. Mmm. Some nice French food at last. And at least the streets aren’t crowded. An hour later Private Eye Nathaniel Horton stepped bravely into “La Voiture et le Démarreur”. Only the innkeeper was there, standing behind the “counter” with a wine stained apron on. He looked up expectantly,
“Oh, it’s you!” Horton couldn’t make out if the innkeeper was pleased to see him or not. He said,
“I just wanna ask you if an Elwin Dupona is staying here along with. . . another man?” The innkeeper answered sharply,
“No, left this morning, in a right hurry they were, said ‘e was going ta Italy.”
“Thanks.” Horton left the pub dumbfounded. Italy. What on earth was he cooking up now? Horton rushed back to his “hotel” and signed out. On the move again. He signalled to a taxi which was conveniently waiting there and said,
“Get me over the border,preferably to Rome!” The car zoomed off. Horton thought nothing more of the well placed taxi and settled down to enjoy the ride. That was when it all started to go wrong. Suddenly metal shutters buzzed down over the window.
“Hey driver!” Horton shouted. But a metal shutter started to slide down,blocking him from the driver! As the shutter closed, Horton saw the driver pull off a moustache and rip a wig from his head. It was Ben. And he was laughing evilly. A horrible cackle. Then the gap closed up. He was trapped. And he was sure Ben had forgotten about getting him over the border to Rome. The doors also clicked. Locked in! Horton thought fast. Should I try the wire cutters in my pocket? Horton delved around in his pocket and brought out a small wire cutter. He doubted if it would work, but it was worth a try. He scratched away at the shutter. When he looked at what he had done, he saw they were barely scathed. Then Horton had another idea. My gun. Guns. It reminded him of the time in Jenkin’s Laboratories. The gun chase through Paris with Ben raining bullets down on him. But this time, he was the one who had the gun. Not Ben. Horton thoughtfully aimed at the place in the shutters where he thought it would hit Ben if it went through. Bang. Far from the going through, the bullet pinged back at him. He ducked and the bullets zinged back and forth until it had ran out of energy. He saw it, lying on the car floor in front of him. Motionless. He swore he could hear Ben pealing with laughter in the driver’s seat. How many times had Ben done this to people. Suddenly the car stopped. The shutters withdrew and Horton got ready to make his move. Ben was out of the car holding his machine gun, gesturing for him to open the car door. Horton stepped out of the car and looked round him. Completely and utterly desolate. No humans around. No animals. Except a carcass, the flesh long gone. He was standing on a hard sandy ground. Ben said,
“Stay here!” Horton stayed. Ben got into the car and pulled out a box. A big box. No, a huge, enormous, gigantic box. Ben untied a rope around the box and chucked it down on the desert ground. He revved the car and whizzed off. What is in the box. Horton slowly put out a hand to open the lid, but withdrew it hastily. Why? Because the lid was moving. Up. Up. UP! A black claw stuck out, swishing in the air. Then another. And another and another. The box suddenly fell over. The lid came off. Horton couldn’t believe his eyes. He just turned and ran.
Vladimir Krushver’s car pulled over. He and Dupona got out. Together they lifted the box out of the boot. They opened it. Carefully taking the lid off. There lay the bionic robot, the centre of our story. Glistening in the Sun. Gleaming, but silent. Dupona and Krushver straightened up. In the distance they could see a man walking towards them. He was wearing khaki clothes.
“First up.” said Dupona. He pressed the kill button on the robot. The robot would kill everyone in a radius of 100 metres who were not in his DNA scanner. Elwin Dupona and Vladimir Krushver, thankfully for them were both in the DNA scanner. But the man walking towards them wasn’t. The robot rose out of the box, just like the zombies in Michael Jackson’s thriller. Its arms straightened out in front of it. Then to machine guns hummed out. Blam blam blam blam!
“Achhhh!” The soldier coming towards them was dead.
“Forward!” the robot said mechanically. The robot clumped off in the direction of where the man had come from. Krushver and Dupona followed cautiously. Then the robot picked up speed. At first hurrying on. Then at a jogging pace, then running, sprinting. Then as fast as a car. It zoomed away. Krushver and Dupona ran as fast as they could to keep up with it. Dupona muttered breathlessly,
“That’s how fast he is.”
“Yeah!” They didn’t have to run fast as the robot was only running roughly a hundred metres. A huge camouflaged bunker lay motionless in front of the robot. Then the huge gun turret swivelled. Kaboom!!!!!! A rocket whistled through the air. BAM. It covered the bionic robot. Both Dupona and Krushver’s hearts were in their mouths. But the smoke cleared and the robot walked on. It stuck its machine guns in the turret and fired. Down the other end a man received a bullet through his head. He died. The robot’s machine guns withdrew and a huge fist appeared. Wham. The turret snapped clean in two. In side everyone panicked. What was this piece of metal that could withstand AKA heat-seeking missiles? The Kazakhstan rebels drew out AK47s and prepared to blast rockets at the robot when it would inevitably smash through the doors at any moment. Crash. The doors ricocheted open. The robot walked through, guns blazing. The AK47 man didn’t have a chance. He was dead. Not enough time to squeeze the trigger. The rebels ran to the back of the bunker, knowing they wouldn’t be able to fight this terror. Will any of us get out alive? That was the thought of the one man who did get out alive. He followed everyone else. His name was Hudabah, Arabic for brave. But he wasn’t in the mood for being brave. He cowered away. In front of him the robot swept through the other rebels. Hudabah could hear their shrieks. He could see his comrades dying. He had always knows that joining these rebels would end stickily. But not this stickily. Everyone else was dead. The robot pointed its machine guns at him. But the bullets never came. The robot turned round and walked through its debris and back out to Dupona and Krushver. Little did Hudabah know, he had been hiding just outside the 100 metre radius. He slipped out of the back of the bunker and climbed into a jeep. He was off to Moscow for a new life. That would be the last time he ever touched a gun.
Horton ran on and on. Once he looked back. He saw twenty scorpions scuttling after him. He knew that his gun could take out maybe five of them. But he hadn’t thought of bringing any spares with him. No! He would have to find some other way out of this predicament. Then ahead of him he saw landrover. A couple and their children sat in it eating lunch. The man saw Horton and yelled,
“Hey there’s a man being chased by a bunch of scorpions.” His children looked up scared. The man yelled at Horton jump aboard sonny. He was English but the wife must have been Italian for she broke out in a burst of Italian words. The English man started the engine and started moving slowly away! Horton caught up and jumped into the back of the landrover and they were off. The scorpions carried on running for a while. But it was clear Horton was safe. The kind family dropped Horton off in Rome. Apparently he had been in the most remote part of Italy but the family, (the Smiths) always got there for their lunch. Horton was eating macaroni cheese in a restaurant an hour later. He knew he still had a hard task to complete. Where was Dupona? Where was Ben? Where should he start looking for them? But Horton didn’t care. He would think about that later. Now, he thought, is the time for eating.
Chapter 8: An Unexpected Source of Information
Hudabah knocked on the strong wooden door.
“Come in!” Hudabah opened the door and walked in. Private Eye Nathaniel Horton sat in a ragged armchair reading a newspaper. “The Ziggurat” to be precise. He was checking up on what had happened in the world recently because he had thought of nothing else but dodging and finding Dupona for the past few days. He was having a day off. Just before the knock on the door had come he had see this article:
Yesterday the Kazakhstan terrorists hiding in a bunker near the southern border of Russia were destroyed by a robot. Hudabah Akmal, 23, one of the survivors of the attack states,
“I know what we were doing was wrong. Sorry, what we did, you know taking over the bunker. But what we experienced yesterday was far more harsh a punishment than we expected. I swear to you that what I’m about to say is true. A ROBOT, yes a robot, ripped our bunker apart. I was the only survivor. It was pointing its gun at me when suddenly it turned around and went back. I also witnessed two men standing far behind the robot observing the proceedings. One of them was black, the other white, but of what nationality I have absolutely no idea.”
This new terror, reportedly a bionic robot is from Jenkin’s laboritories. It was stolen about a month ago. In further interview Hudabah said,
“The robot withstood a blast from the bunker’s main turret. Then it snapped it clean in two. At that point we knew this was a special, invincible robot. I fear the terror of this monsterous object be destroyed.”
The police have no leads, but reportedly there is a detective after the culprits. However it is likely that the men will go into hiding until the news has washed away. Then we fear that many other similar incidents may occur.
Mr Jones, police inspector commented,
“We also have had a tip off from someone that the major robbery on the Bank of England was done by these two men, using the robot!
Horton looked up,
“Who are you?”
“I am Hudabah.” Horton was now sufficiently interested to provoke himself to put his newspaper down. Hudabah continued.
“You have probably read what happened in the newspaper to do with me.” Horton nodded,
“Go on!”he said.
“I happen to know that you are working on this case. These two men were heading for Russia. When they left with the robot they went deeper into Russia. I suspect they’re heading for Mos. . .”
Bang! Hudabah fell down dead muttering,
“Moscow. . .Vladimir” Horton raced to the double doors leading to the balcony. It was jammed. Horton saw why. The murderer had put a wedge under the door. Horton kicked it out of the way and yanked open the door. He rushed to the edge of the balcony. There was a rope attached. Wow. This guy must be a good climber. Horton looked down. In the car park far below he could see a car waiting silently. Normal. Suddenly a man appeared from no where and got into the car. The car whizzed off. It was Ben. Ben. Horton pulled out his gun. Bang bang bang bang. He was aiming for the tyres. One bullet went horribly wide, through the roof near the driver. Horton gulped. Oops. The other three hit their mark. The car screeched to a stop. Ben got out. One man Not two. The other man’s dead. I’ve killed someone. But Horton knew this wasn’t the time for being regretful. He raced out of the room, hastily glancing at Hudabah. Yep, he’s dead. Down the stairs he went, skipping over half of them. The woman at the main desk exclaimed,
“CHE!” which means “what”! Horton was out of the hotel in a trice. No sign of Ben. He can’t have gone far. What if he’s just waiting for me? But Horton ran on. Through the side car park. Past a graffiti covered, tumbledown building. Still no sign of Ben. When the h. . . Ben had just ran into an old barn. Ah ha. Horton felt his gun. Twenty rounds. I’m no longer afraid to use a gun. Horton peered round the corner of the old bar. Crack. A bullet nestled itself in the wall just above Horton’s head. Great he’s armed. Wait a sec, was I expecting him not to be? Horton fired a couple of shots to cover himself and sprinted to a nearby hay stack. It wouldn’t give him much cover but it would have to do. Once again Horton looked round his protection. He thought he saw Ben moving. Nope its just a shadow. Blam. Five seconds past. Blam. Another bullet whistled overhead. Horton had a plan. He lay flat on the ground and started crawling around the haystack the bullets were coming from. Blam blam. More bullets ricocheted off the ceiling, off the ground, off everywhere. Good, Ben still doesn’t know I’m coming. When I turn the next corner he’ll be there. Careful Horton, he thought. Careful. He swung round the corner,
“Hands up!” Horton couldn’t believe his eyes. There was no one there. So where were the bullets coming from? Then, there on a small, wooden box was an automatic pistol. Set for 15 rounds. On its side screen it showed one. Blam. Horton suddenly figured it out. He turned round. Too late. Ben was already on top of him He pinned his arms behind his back and then growled,
“Right Horton, how’d you escape?” the question was full of malice. “How?”he repeated, like an American Indian. The old Horton would have stammered out the truth. The new Horton swung a kick aimed at Ben’s shin. Ben went flying back, landing in a haystack. Horton ran at Ben, but he was propelled backwards into another haystack. Horton had his gun, as did Ben who said,
“I like you Horton. You’ve changed. Not enough for me to kill you. Daniel Elkins. You know him?” Horton nodded. He could have killed Ben by now. “You cowered away into a car where nobody could get you. The new Horton would have sneaked in on foot. The new Horton is brave. If only I and Dupona had recruited you before you were brainwashed by that imbecile, the inspector. But now I have to kill you.” At this point Horton was angry. He wasn’t a fool. Yes he knew Ben had said he had changed. But that was not enough. He was never ever a fool. Ben was still blathering on and so he didn’t notice Horton raising his gun. He levelled it, aiming at Ben’s gun. That was Ben’s greatest mistake. He thought that he and Horton were ready to talk like friends. Horton blocked his ears and fired. Bam. Ben’s gun split in two and fell to the floor. Ben stopped jabbering away and looked at Horton.
“You. . .!” He was lost for words. He should have just killed him. Horton handcuffed him and marched him away to his car.
“Hehe, I was never feeble or a fool, my good friend Ben. I gather that Dupona is in Russia, Moscow to be precise. I’m afraid I heard it all.” As Horton drove Ben to the local police station I need to tell you something. Private Eye Nathaniel Horton had not heard it all. He missed the last ever word Hudabah would say. And even then it was only half a word. But what an important word it was. It was actually a name. Vlad****. Ben had done his job. Although he was spend his life in prison for murder and lots of other punishable offences, he had done his job.
Vladimir Krushver sat anxiously waiting for his next visitor. It was a more important visitor than he usually had. This visitor wasn’t going to talk about the artichoke crisis in Zimbabwe but to talk about robbing the VTB, Moscow bank. The VTB bank of Russia holds billions of pounds but unknown to every normal man on earth, there was a certain machine in there that was worth laying hands on. And as you know Vladimir Krushver was not a normal man. He was quite the opposite. A criminal mastermind. A high-ranking Russian officer. I’m afraid that if he read this book he would be completely and utterly disgusted. He would say,
“Criminal Mastermind? Intellectual mastermind, more like.” You see, he considered him self an Intellectual Mastermind and high-ranking Russian Officer.
So basically he knew that there was machinery worth grabbing in the VTB, Moscow bank. He also knew that that his good friend Elwin Dupona had a robot which was more than capable of breaking and entrering the VTB, Moscow bank. Yes, you guessed it. This exciting visitor was Elwin Dupona. And they were going to discuss the robbery of “the machine” (as we will refer to it as the latter). I’m afraid that just for a surprise your not going to hear the conversation that Dupona and Krushver had. However, they were certainly cooking something up. And it wasn’t to do with helping old ladies cross the road.
Anyway, back to Horton who was reading an article on an artichoke crisis in Zimbabwe on a plane due to arrive in Moscow at 3:10pm. The time was 2:47. Twenty-three minutes until he could begin his search, once again for Dupona.
Dupona and Krushver’s conversation had just ended when Krushver’s secretary walked in.
“Here is the blue paper you ordered sir.” She left quietly. Dupona was about to leave when he suddenly remembered something,
“I think the detective guy is on our trail!”
“Because Ben got arrested for murder. I sent him to take out Hudabah who was splitting on us to Horton. He did it. But Horton got ‘im in a gun fight. He’s in prison now, jailed for life. The police hushed it all up because they’re trying to keep the bionic robot thing quiet. You know, they don’t want to alarm anyone. This also means that Nathaniel Horton isn’t as big of a dummy as we thought he was. I suspect that he’ll be here in Moscow looking for us. Just like in France and Italy.” he paused. Then Vladimir Krushver said,
“He’s getting to nosey. If he managed to get Ben, he might just be a nuisance to us. I think I’ll arrange a little accident for our friend Horton.”
“But boss, the police will look into it and find that we’re behind it.” Dupona squirmed in his seat.
But Krushver crushed his fears and said,
“I did say “accident”, didn’t I. I’ll just get Zdezar on the job. He’ll find a more imaginative way of killing him that won;t get us into trouble. We jus’ need ta lie low for a bit. You know, take out the snoopers who are after us. Then, operation “Shatter Break” may commence. Then bigger accidents will happen. You know, I think our first victim should be Jamie Lawrence, that business tycoon. Annoys the life out of me he does. With his fancy glass lift.” Dupona walked out. Then Vladimir Krushver, commander of the Russian Army laughed. An evil laugh. A murderous, dark laugh. . .
Chapter 9: “Mail, Mr Horton”
“Mail, Mr Horton” said the woman at the front desk of the hotel, Ilowsky. Horton walked up to the desk.
“Thanks!” he said, picking up the package and walking off up the rickety stairs to his room. Who knows I’m here? And what would someone send me in a parcel? These questions bugged his mind until he reached his room. Then suddenly he got it. He pressed the package against his ears and listened intently. A man walked past, staring in amusement at Horton’s actions. Tic tic. A faint noise. Oh my. . . is it really? The ticking stopped. It reminded him of the “doodle bugs” from World War Two. When the noise stops and it is above you, you know you are doomed. In this case it was when the ticking stopped. Then you know you are in for it. Oh dear, the ticking has stopped. Suddenly Horton threw the package away from him, down the corridor. KABBOOM!! A shock wave cut the walls to pieces and Horton went flying. He cracked his head on the wall. And that was that. He blacked out. . .
Horton came to. He could see blurred figures bending anxiously over him. Ach. A stab of pain in his head. The whiteness. The light. Then suddenly he heard voices,
“You think he’s gonna make it?” It was unmistakably the Inspector’s voice. Horton felt scared as he listened out for the answer.
“Yes, he will, so long as you don’t let him do his detective stuff for a while. He’s got concussion.” That was all Horton heard before he passed out. He was plunged into a dark dream. Colours swirled magically around him. Then a picture formed. Dupona cackling. Hudabah dying. Ben’s machine gun. Then they all merged into one and tormented him. Then the bullets came. Tac tac tac. Horton woke up again. A nurse was bending over him holding a small glass of water. Horton sipped at it. Oh. . .what happened?
Horton again looked up. The Inspector was there, looking strange in casual clothes. He said,
“You in a fit state to talk?”
“Just ’bout!” Horton grumpily squeezed out. The Inspector continued,
“You probably know that in that parcel was a bomb. You managed to throw it away, or you would undoubtedly be playing a harp right now.” Horton nodded giving the Inspector a sardonic look. The Inspector carried on,
“Dupona is in Moscow at the moment. We don’t have any idea about what he is planning with the robot but we need you to keep an eye out for him. The doctor refuses to let you out for a week. But we’ve arranged something. Tonight you will be swapped with a man from MI6. He is skilled in faking illnesses and concussion. So then you can get on with finding Dupona. Ben revealed to us something mysterious. He said that Dupona was working with a high-ranking Russian officer. We have our suspects, but to accuse a Russian could mean war. And that’s the last thing we need with Colonel Gaddafi playing up in Libya. We have to have absolute proof that a Russian is involved. So, basically you’ll have two jobs. Keep an eye on Dupona and the other is to find out who he’s working with. But it should be easy to carry out both assignments as it is probable that they are not far apart. Here is a list of the Russian’s we suspect.” He handed Horton a slip of paper. “Just be careful. You’ve had quite a few lucky escapes.” Horton thought back. The grenade at Jenkin’s laboratory. The poison in my food. The fight with one of Dupona’s henchmen. The gun chase in Paris. The fight with Ben and last but not least this bomb attack. The Inspector left the room leaving Horton pondering over his new job. Wow. That was all Horton could think. Wow.
Horton’s room in the hotel Ilowsky was a lot better than the ones in France and Italy. For a start, the carpet wasn’t mud colour. Instead it was dark red, with multicoloured flowers patterned on it. The walls were all one colour, whereas the walls in France had been a mixture of dirt colour to sick colour. Not very appetising. Horton was sitting in a relatively comfortable chair staring down a list. A long list. It read:
General Colesky Tolev of the 5th marines.
Antoine Tototev Secretary of State.
General Vladimir Krushver
Augustine Misolvsky Head of Russian Intelligence.
Horton sat thinking for a minute, scanning the list. Hmm, Reli Stalin. Grandson to Joseph Stalin. Vladimir Krushver, commander of the army. Hmm. Stalin looking for power. . . maybe?
He folded up the list and placed it on his desk. Time for some food.
Zdezar was in a bad mood. How to kill Horton. He was leaning against the sign which said “Ilowsky”. Now all you could see was “low”. That was how he felt. Then Horton walked out of the narrow door. He didn’t notice Zdezar in the shadows. Then Zdezar decided to forget being cautious. He set off down the street and pulled something out of his pocket. In broad daylight in front of everyone. It was a gun. . .
Chapter 10: The Sons and Daughters of The Dragon
The streets of Russia are far from spotless. There were crisp packets floating merrily in the breeze. And usually there would be a constant nattering of Mums telling their children,
“No, you don’t need to go into the hairdressers” and “No Malov, no climbing trees, we’re about to get to auntie’s house”. But not today. When a man walks down the middle of a road, it is strange enough. But when they are carrying a gun, it is something different. The crowds cowered into the corner, petrified, watching the drama unfold. Horton was however oblivious to a man holding a gun, pointing it at his head. So on he walked, assuming that the crowds movement was merely Russian custom when they see a foreigner. Huh. He was feeling relatively happy because so far that day he hadn’t been chased by a gun man (little did he know). But that didn’t matter. On he walked. Then he saw a sign pointing down a dark alley, which read,
“English shop”. Horton was interested. Would there be some fellow country men to talk to. So, being Horton he decided to walk down the spooky long alley. The end was not visible, instead it was engulfed in shadows. Who would step down an unknown passage in an unknown country. Horton. And only Horton. Well, that was not strictly true. Zdezar looked around at the swathes of people, hiding from him. Then he followed Horton in.
He would finish Horton off with a swift shot, in an artery. Now, which artery shall I choose? He aimed and . . .
“Yahh” Boom. Zdezar’s gun went off, but off target. Then a swipe to the neck.
“Oof.” That was the end of Zdezar, for a few hours any way. Horton swung round and gasped. And then gulped. There, stood a tall women. She had a stud in her ear and wore clothes similar to a pirate.
“Come.” She signalled with her hand. Horton did not like to disobey. But he wondered as they walked onwards down the alley, who the man on the ground was. Finally Horton saw light at the end of the alley. And then he retched when they turned off down an even narrower alley. Away from light. . . and hope.
– – – – –
The room was dingy. Candlelight lit the corners of the room but where Horton was sitting could have been associated to a chair of shadows. Around him, men sat calmly. Then through an arch at the side of the room walked a man in ninja clothes, followed by the women from the alley. When Horton had arrived he had been led through dark passages and finally through an arch to this room. The women stood at the side, leaning against the sandstone walls, watching with an eagle eye. Like a school teacher. Then the latest man to enter the room spoke,
“Friends! Ikaska rescued this man from the filthy Zdezar.” Filthy Zdezar. He’d bear that in mind“Zdezar was going to shoot him but Ikaska’s bravery helped her rescue him. We all know Zdezar. The scum, the traitor to us, the sons and daughters of the dragon. He left us, giving information of our whereabouts to. . . that . . .man.” He seemed lost for words. “Dupona” Horton blinked and said,
“Excuse me?” All eyes were on him.
“Elwin Dupona? You know him?” The men shifted uneasily on the floor. The chief said,
“Yes, unfortunately, we do. How is it that you come to know of Elwin Dupona?”
“Well, it was like this. . .” The night rolled on. Horton telling the sons and daughters of the dragon the long story of his battles with Dupona. Mexico, Ben. . .gunfight gunfight. . . gun. . .fight. . .
– – – – – –
“Sir sir!” Horton was on the floor. He had passed out.
“Sir! You must be tired, you have had a long day! It is time for you to get some rest. We will talk in the morning” said the chief.
“Er, yes, I will. . .go.” Horton wondered where he would sleep. Once again he was led down the corridors by Ikaska. This time he saw two rooms on his right. Ikaska said,
“Your room is that one,”she pointed to one of the doors. Horton opened the door and looked in. Dusty, but it’ll do. He lay down and it was a case of head hit pillow.
– – – – –
Thump thump. Is it that time already?
“Horton, Horton!” It was Ikaska’s voice. He looked at his clock. Half past one. Sigh.
“What?” He cried.
“Come, quickly, I hear screams and shouts from the main corridor!” Horton grabbed his gun and hastily threw some clothes on. They raced down the corridor, all the time, the noise getting nearer. Bang. A gun shot. They both halted. Then a blood curling scream. They looked at each other. Ikaska who also held a gun had a white face of pure fear. Finally they reached the main corridor. More gunshots.
“That’s Misaka’s voice!” cried Ikaska. She turned the corner. Rat a tata rat a tat tata. Men in hooded ninja robes were busy in a skirmish with the sons of the dragon. Ikaska levelled her gun and fired. Blam! One of the enemy fell. Then the one Horton assumed was Misaka was winded by a punch. Then a shot through the head. He was dead. Blam. Another fell. The attention turned to them. The sons of the dragon lay scattered lifeless around the corridor, but eight hooded men remained. Bullets. Ikaska popped round the corner.
“Come!” She raced back down a smaller corridor. To Horton’s immense surprise she knocked off the flaming candles which lined the wall. The flames leapt up. Soon the corridor was block off with a huge furnace. The enemy were blocked off but so were they from the exit. On the ran. Turning out of sight of the fire. Past their rooms. And then Ikaska stopped in her tracks. She kicked open the door to her room and grabbed a candle. She set it down on her bed. Then off they ran again. Breathlessly she muttered,
“Documents, important!” they reached a wall. A dead end. Ikaska pushed a brick in the middle and suddenly the wall started to move. Bricks sliding away, leaving a gap in the wall. Or not. They hurried through. They were met by a blinding light. They were out in the sun. . .
– – – – –
“I’ve just had word from Zdezar, Vlad.”Dupona relayed to Krushver. “He says the whole thing failed. . .”
“WHY?”bellowed Krushver. “We need Horton dead as soon as possible!” He paced round the room angrily.
“Ah, but Vlad, there is a good reason why not.” replied Dupona. Krushver looked up.
“Well, you see, Zdezar had followed Horton out of his hotel with a gun out. Everyone could see it. A little bit foolish I admit.”
“A little bit foolish?? THE BUMBLING IDIOT!!!”intervened Krushver impatiently.
“Well, it turned out all right because Horton went into the dark alley. . .”
“What? The dark alley, where the sons of the dragon are?”exclaimed Krushver.
“Indeed.”confirmed Dupona. “He was about to fire when he was knocked out by a daughter of the dragon.”
“Zdezar? Knocked out by a women?”said Krushver amazed.
“Vlad, these people are trained in that kind of thing. Anyway. . .”Dupona raised a hand to stop Krushver interrupting. “Zdezar was knocked out and the women took him to her boss.” Krushver, still shaking his head at the thought of Zdezar being knocked out by anyone, let alone a women, said,
“And so what did Zdezar do?”
“Hired the Black Knights to go in.”answered Dupona. “There was a big punch-up in which all the sons of the dragon were killed, unfortunately, the women and Horton escaped to live another day.
But this was a huge victory for the Black Knights. As you know they’re rival gangs. So old Zdezar stormed off and searched Horton and the women’s room. All burnt to a crisp, not one single fragment of paper to give him a clue where to find Horton again. He tried the hotel Illowsky but found that his rent hadn’t been paid. The bank manager was angry at him so in the end Zdezar ended up karate chopping him in the neck. The fool. He kills people at random. And that’s where he’s got to. We have absolutely no idea where Horton is and until he’s dead we’re running the risk of getting caught!”
2 hours earlier
The cold night air swept noisily past their heads. Ikaska and Horton moved silently through the back streets of Moscow, keeping to the shadows and casting their eyes around them, looking out for a sign of anyone. Apparently the whole of Moscow seemed to be in bed. But that was not quite true. All except Zdezar, who was stealthily creeping through the wreckage of the headquarters of the sons of the dragon. He was looking for a clue, “any clue”, that would lead him to Horton’s whereabouts. But so far his search had been fruitless. Did it help that he had found a few ragged garments of clothing? No. Dupona and “that stupid Russian” would be furious with him. But now a feud was building between him and Horton. The famous assassin Zdezar, foiled by some bungling detective? Maybe once would be acceptable. Twice was bad enough when that ugly woman whacked him in the neck. And this third time. Poor. But a fourth would be unthinkable. And that was why Zdezar was itching to kill Horton. Every single instinct in his body was saying constantly,
Anyway, I must take you away from the furious Zdezar back to Ikaska and Horton who were very much in commando raid mode. You may have guessed what is going to happen. Ikaska and Horton are going to have a punch-up with Zdezar. Getting tedious, this story? Well, for once, and I warn you only once they are not going to get involved in some pointless fight which leaves one of them on the floor with a bloody nose and the other sneaking, cackling off into the night.
Ikaska and Horton arrived at the hole in the wall which would lead them into the maze of tunnels which was the ex-home to the sons of the dragon. They stepped over some loose bricks and Ikaska snapped a torch on. Both with gun in hand moved up the tunnel. They too, much like Zdezar had not expected to find anyone. So it was an immense surprise to them when they turned a corner and saw Zdezar searching in piles of crumbled bricks. The black shadows were deepened by the scorched walls, which had received a lot of heat during the escape from the hands of the black knights. Fortunately for them Zdezar did not see them and they were able to retrace their steps back round the corner. They they flopped against the wall, their brows drenched in sweat at their narrow escape. Ikaska was all for killing him, seeing as he had been the brutal man who ordered the black knights to storm the tunnels. But Horton employing his few brain cells said,
“No, we should follow the scoundrel back to his master and see who he is.”
“Ok!” she agreed reluctantly. They waited for five minutes which seemed more like 10 times that. But at last Zdezar gave up his search, and muttering angrily under his breath his walked up the tunnel, towards the corner where with one turn of his head he would see Ikaska and Horton. But they had foreseen this and were crouching uncomfortably behind a pile of bricks. Zdezar turned the corner and neared the hiding place. Both Ikaska and Horton felt that their breath was as loud as the tide coming in and their hearts pumping like the rhythmic drumming you would hear in a pop band. But this was not reality and so Zdezar passed by without even a puzzled look sideways. As soon as Zdezar had left the tunnel, Horton and Ikaska sprinted after him. They were just in time to see Zdezar hurry off quickly to the left of the tunnel. They followed him for ten minutes, keeping to the shadows. Once Zdezar turned suddenly whipping out his gun. But he saw only a cat because Horton and Ikaska had concealed themselves in a shop doorway. At last the trail ended. Zdezar walked into a pub and ordered a pint. He gulped it down and once again they set off, Ikaska and Horton keeping on the trail. But when barely one row of houses had been passed, Zdezar headed towards a Hotel, Klowsk. Ikaska raised her gun, as they had prearranged if Zdezar did not lead them to his boss. But Horton said,
“STOP!” he pointed at a figure walking towards them. It was a Russian police officer. He shouted,
“Vat do you fink you are doin?’” Ikaska and Horton took to their heels and ran pursued by shouts from the furious police officer. But to no avail. On they ran until they reached a hotel they had booked previously knowing that the hotel Illowsky was no longer safe. They flopped down on their bed exhausted and were soon fast asleep.