December 1, 2015
Blackfeet Indian Reservation
Glacier Country, Montana
Chief of Staff Victor Running Eagle, keen eyes alert, nostrils flared, stood before his peers, the Elders of World Leadership. His chiseled features, more somber than usual, revealed the serious nature of his report at this emergency meeting.
"Last night five prisoners succeeded in neutralizing our monitoring devices, then replaced them with decoys. Two hours passed before the micro scanners recognized the trick, time enough for an escape from Graham Bell Island."
Victor's dark gaze moved from one grim face to the next. He could smell the rage. It permeated the air like the odor of a rotting carcass. "I don't suppose I have to name the Highwaymen?"
"The greediest men on earth."
"Took three countries into bankruptcy before we stopped them."
"Corporate moguls who destroyed the environment for profit."
"Power brokers turned criminals."
"We should have held them another year on Wilczek Land."
"Yes, security is impenetrable at that level."
Finally the grousing ceased when Victor raised his hand. "My sister and brother Elders, there is no time to waste. Our optical satellite is supplying World Watch One with alarming data." The tall gray-haired man, wearing two leather-bound braids, captured his peers' full attention. "The escaped convicts have outside help. Within hours they could reach the world nuclear storage facility at Chernobyl."
Again Victor gauged the group. "Our CO-leaders have asked me to request permission to hunt down these people who threaten our hard won peace," he said. "Tzu Lee Che will conduct the discussion before the motion is offered."
Victor waited at the podium, watching Tzu Lee, his mate, come forward. In his memory he tasted her last nectared kiss, inhaled her musky fragrance. Waiting, he marveled again at her timeless porcelain beauty, and that she'd dedicated her life and breath to the Cause--his cause which was now hers. At the same time, in his peripheral vision he saw one of his senior support staff rush on-stage.
"An urgent message from World Watch One, sir," said the messenger as he placed a folded paper into Victor's palm.
Silently the leader of the Elders tested the knife edge fold before he opened the note and read. Then suddenly he gasped and swayed on his feet. Tzu Lee ran to support him. "No!" he exclaimed, clinging to the bronze lectern. "Great Spirit, no!"
"What is it?"
"Victor, tell us the news."
"Surely, it can't be any worse than we already know."
Victor summoned his inner strength, strength he'd gathered and stored, strength from his ancestors, learned during his apprenticeship, used for his tribe, the Blackfeet, as their Chief Medicine Man. Now he needed it for himself. To carry on, he needed it all.
"My sisters and brothers--" He choked on his words. "Elders of the World, the Highwaymen have kidnapped our World CO-Leader, my granddaughter, Jenny Running Eagle. Her husband, Mikhail Primakov, the remaining CO-Leader, has suffered severe injury in his attempt to save her."
"This is terrible."
"She's due to deliver her baby any day now."
"This will surely cause an early delivery."
"Then they will have two hostages."
Victor pressed Tzu Lee's small hand in his, then bowed his head and wept. "Many others have died." Finally he inhaled deeply and lifted his chin, his noble features taut, his piercing black gaze raw. "We must stop these madmen ... before it is too late."