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Reflections from another life

a topic in Gundam Wing: Continuing Legend, a part of the RPG forum.

Original GWing Storyline, now AC 202.

Reflections from another life

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:44 pm

For the mercenary it usually took no effort to drop into the life of the wealthy and successful businessman. The two lives were so different he had no problems shutting out the one when he lived the other. This time though things were not that simple, firstly he had not finished his job. For the first time in his life he had walked away from a contract, albeit a verbal one for no money, and it irked him, he felt bad at having left the Ambassador without making any attempt to locate her. Her disappearence just after he had decided to reveal his background had shaken him, shaken him far more than he would ever admit even to himself. He felt a degree of responsibility for her and her wellbeing and although she could still contact him he felt he should be there to provide protection.

Then there was his own need to contribute to the peace process, his need for absolution, after all he was alive and she was dead. Again it was not something he ever thought about, analysed for himself, but that didn&#39;t make it any the less true, he needed to be see peace so he could live again for himself.

He was distracted in his work, it was a good job he had to do very little, or rather that he had trusted people upon whom he could rely. He spent his time between reading the European papers, scanning the web for any hint of news about the whereabouts of his missing Ambassador. On top of that he did his best to find out where she could have gone. No sign was to be had, this could either be a good thing or a bad, and as yet he didn&#39;t know which. Hoping against hope that she had got some disturbing news and found a way out, any other alternative was too horrible to comtemplate.

Of course her familly history was quite well known, to students of history at least, the Novello&#39;s and the Alighieri&#39;s had been in conflict, open or covert for centuries, since the Renaissance started in northern Italy in fact, sometimes the fought each other sometimes others; but conflict was a way of life for the great families of the old city states of Italy. Now why had he thought of the Novello&#39;s? Was there something he had missed, some piece of information that had not registered at the time now dropping into place?

Grimbold struggled to concentrate on his normal life going through the motions of being CEO but his heart was not in it. By the end of the second day he had reached a desicion, he would give her a couple of weeks and if there was no news he would go back to Europe and try and trace the Ambassador.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:45 am

Along with checking for news from conventional sources the businessman checked Grim&#39;s email regularly. It came as a pleasant surprise to recieve a reply from Svetlana so soon. The message itself was short and to the point, but something niggled at the back of his mind, there was more there than was said. He thought carefully for some time before deciding how to reply. He decided the best plan would be to be straightforward. He sat looking at the screen on the portable PC for some time.

"Dear Svetlana,

The Ambassador gave no indication in our last communication that she was intent upon leaving, and I take it that she has not told you anything either. If I can be of any help to you please let me know and I will join you in Florence, or indeed anywhere else if that is more useful.

If it helps I have been watching all the news channels and there has been nothing about the Ambassador or anyone meeting her approximate description. I hope that she may be with a friend of yours of fiery disposition though I have no reason to suppose that is the case, just a hunch and a feeling. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Regards GT"

That should cover it he thought and read through the message again before hitting the send button.

He took the opportunity to send one of his colleagues to re-stock the small galley on the jet and reprimanded the exec who had left it without doing the job himself. Once that was taken care of he lost himself in his new routine scanning news broadcasts from across Europe and checking email.

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Echos and memories

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:37 pm

The CEO of one of Ireland&#39;s largest investment companies was distracted, something had happened to him in another life that brought back memories of this one. Something that was supposed to be a distraction had become more important, was demanding attention from him now. Two lives that were supposed to be separate, always had been before, were merging. When the mercenary had admitted to having been married he had not been entirely truthful, it had been the businessman who had been married. The distinction between the two lives was getting blurred. And now Sara was in his head again she leapt out at him from behind shadows of memories, things half remebered. Sometimes it was a moment shared, sometimes it was something she had said and there she was again leaning over his shoulder an inquisitive look on her face, he could feel her thinking

"Well what are you going to do about it, I am here now and I am not going away again until you have found some solution"

Just like her, a stubborn streak a mile wide always directed at him. He knew he would eventually bow to the pressure turned at him. He always felt rather like the rabbit caught in the car headlights, frightened almost half to death and yet too mesmerised by the beauty to move.

And here he was again caught in the dual headlights of their shared love, wishing that it would go and leave behind the hollow empty feeling knowing at the same time that it could and would never go as long as he lived. All he could do was live with it and try as hard as he could to make things right, which in this case was to ensure that her death was given a meaning. He turned back to the computer that had been running a business growth projection that had stopped at the back of his eyeballs every time he had tried to take it in. He closed the simulation and opened the email client, ignoring the long list of messages demanding immediate attention. He sat in silence looking at the screen before writing an e-mail

"My dearest Sara,
Here I am again my love writing this e-mail to you in the vain hope that somehow an echo of what I say will reach you wherever you are. I know I was never very good at saying I love you you knew it but I never said it as often as I should, as often as I meant to. Now I can never tell you it again. I think I have a chance to lay the ghost of you, a way to keep what was good and let go of the feelings I have after your death, I never shed a single tear for you, not from the second I heard about your death now I can feel them behind my eyes just waiting for a chance to come out. And that is where I may be able to find absolution, absolution for the sin of my continuing life now that you are gone. When I have done I will hold a wake for you my darling we will celebrate what you meant to me and I can stop punishing myself, maybe even become whole again. I want to be one person I am tired of being split, incomplete. You were the only person that ever saw me as one I nearly told someone else, but in the end she did not turn up, maybe it was for the best perhaps the time is not here yet.

I know you won&#39;t reply, your dead after all, but I will never stop looking for an answer.

All my love Always Darragh."

The two men looked out at the e-mail he filled in Sara&#39;s e-mail address at the top and hit send. There was an almost palpable sense of relief when it was sent. For a split second the two men were one again, a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth before the mercenary left.

He reached over and pressed the intercom to talk to his P.A.

"Jackie, I have had a sudden call I have things that need attending to in Europe, I am taking the jet and will return when I hae finished, and before you ask, I don&#39;t know even roughly how long I will be, If you could book me a slot to fly to Florence I will take a couple of days lay over there and go on to my final destination. I will not be available, you know the routine."

[dec]He waited long enough to hear her assent, thanked her and releasing the button heaved a huge sigh. Back to Florence, he only hoped he would find some sort of trail to follow.[/desc]

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sat Jul 29, 2006 4:51 pm

Darragh O&#39;Brien left his offices taking the lift to the underground garage, he collected his car and drove to his city apartment and collected clothes and money. There were other things that he might need, but they would not be found in the home of a respectable business man. For the other things he would have to take a trip to north London, to a small and disreputable bedsitter. He fought his way through the traffic chomping on the bit for an opportunity to open up the throttles on the Bentley Sport Coupe&#39;s big Vee eight. It took an inordinately long time to get to the bedsit, but once there he knew what he was after. The kit he collected together made an interesting contradiction, he came out as cross between scene of crime officer and a burglar. He had lockpicks, electronics to detect and avoid most security equipment and everything a forensic scientist would need. Back to the car and a quick blast back into the East End of London and the City airport.

Clearance was given and he took off the late afternoon sun glinting off the wings as he turned and put the sun behind him heading off to northern Italy. He started planning his first moves for when he arrived: first he would need a base of operations, a suite in a good hotel would do. He would need to talk to the nearest branch of Interpol, their facilities could prove invaluable.

He landed back in Florence just three days after he had left. He booked a suite at the International, and got them to send a limo round, well since he was there in both identities he might as well enjoy it. On the way he put a call in to Interpol he had had plenty of contact with them over the years and knew that as Grimbold he had a good reputation so was going to make use of it. He had no idea what had happened to the Ambassador, his research had at last told him her first name, but he wanted to make sure that he had the support of their forensics. Clearly he wasn&#39;t going to go into detail he mentioned no names nor the circumstances under which he knew the Ambassador. All Interpol knew was that he might need their assistance in tracing someone. He had done the same for them in the past, it was time for payback.

That set up he let the city drift past as he was wafted to the hotel. This would be a quiet restful night, he had no idea what he would discover tomorrow or where it would take him so tonight he would relax and enjoy a good book, an excellent meal and a good sleep, as long as he could keep the dreams away.

He couldn&#39;t, ever since he had come back from Lagrange 1 he had dreamed of Sara. It was terrible to dream of someone you loved, every night, dying. He woke up in a cold sweat several times. The image of Sara&#39;s body blasted by the pilot of that mobile suit, and what made it worse was that it was not even personal she just got in the way of a stray shot. He could see the slow motion replay in his head, something he had not witnessed, something that was never shown on the televisions. It was entirely a creation of his own mind, his own guilt. He was tired when morning came but not too tired to work. He had a quick breakfast, packed his tools into a large suitcase and set off to Seraphina&#39;s apartment.

For a few moments he stood outside on the pavement on the opposite side of the road and looked up at the apartment. Nothing looked out of place nothing seemed to have changed. He crossed the road and climbed the stairs to her floor.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:52 am

Even as he rounded the corner at the top of the stairs he knew he had made a fatal mistake, there was a figure in the shadows at the end of the corridor he felt the surge of adrenalin that would normally give him the impetus to draw his own gun. Only today there was no gun he dived to the right hoping to put the unknown gunman off his target, saw the muzzle flash at almost the same instant as the round ploughed into his left shoulder. The impact of the hit spinning him round slamming his body into the wall.

He was aware of the roar of another shot as he hit felt the bullet smash into his back he dropped to the floor blood running from the wounds he heard the assailant run past him and down the stairs.

Grimbold cursed his stupidity caught by a rank amateur no silencer used the shots were not guaranteed to kill. It depended on whether anyone came to investigate in time. He tired to move but could not summon the strength, he lay there soaked in pain blood oozing from the wounds. In a very short time he slipped into unconsciousness.
Last edited by Grimbold Theoman on Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:26 am

Grimbold swam through a sea of pain he could see himself floating in the water just out of reach every time he stretched out to grab an arm it seemed to be just beyond his grasp. There was a pain in his shoulder that sent fingers of agony spreading out every time he tried to reach his body.

He could feel the thoughts running through his own head like pulses of light flashing across space but felt not seen.
I have to get back! His vision was closing in.
No you don&#39;t pass out on me now I need you, don&#39;t you dare let me down. It was a sheer effort of will not to black out totally he stretched out again felt the fabric of his suit jacket brush his fingers, just a little more. Struggling against the icy fingers of pain in his back and shoulder he pushed his hand further through the water. His fingers locked around his own wrist.

There was a blinding flash of light which slowly faded away to a steady reddish glow. The sound of water and waves faded from his ears and something oddly insistent replaced it. The pain was still there but duller and less intrusive.

Slowly he opened his eyes, the ceiling above him was white fluorescent tubes set behind white metal grids lit the room but he could not focus clearly. Slowly he became aware of the beeping of a medical monitor of some sort. He relished the ache in his head, it reminded him he was alive.

He rolled slightly to one side in an attempt to identify the room. The action caused an involuntary groan to escape his lips.

The sound alerted the room&#39;s other occupant, a tall man in a sharp suit, well tailored not looking much like a doctor. All this is lost on Grimbold he is facing the wrong way, but the man turns and looks at the mercenary a look of concern crosses his face followed by one of relief. Without speaking he turns and presses a button on the wall to summon a nurse.

After a moment a nurse entered the room, she efficiently went through the readings on the monitors, said something in Italian that Grimbold could not catch. The sharp dressed man replied and the nurse left the room again.

"Well Mr Theoman, you have been busy" He spoke in English with a slight accent
"Would you mind telling me what you were doing in that apartment block?"
Grimbold lay there for a moment trying to assemble what had happened in his head before he spoke.
"Who are you, and why are you asking me these questions?"
"I am Detective Aldo Ceconni, I am from Interpol and was sent to talk to you by a colleague in Ireland, Inspector James Jones. I believe you know him, he certainly knows you.""
"James? How does he know I am here?"
"When a foreign national is shot on the doorstep of an ambassador Interpol always get involved and with your Irish passport we contacted your local branch, it seems your name flagged up something to someone, and so here I am. What is your connection with Amdassador Aligheri, and why were you outside her appartment with a case full of forensic equipment?"
Grimbold took a deep sigh, well he was going to talk to Interpol himself he had hoped to keep things one step away from himself but then his hand had been forced, might as well tell the story.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:37 pm

"I was hired as part of her bodyguard for a trip to the Colonies. An attempt was made on her and after her return she has disappeared. I was still on her staff and was hoping to try and discover what had caused her to leave without any contact."
Grimbold paused for a moment to give the policeman a chance to say what it was that was clearly on his mind. There had been a slight change in his demeanour since Grim told the Detective his connection with the Ambassador. He was not disappointed
"It is curious that you say she has disappeared, somebody called the force a few days ago claiming to be a cousin of hers and reporting her disappearance. He spoke to Inspector Bernardo Lombardi claiming to be Sergio Novello."
The name meant nothing to Grim, but he knew of the family connection with the Novellos there could be a cousin Sergio for all that he knew.
"I don&#39;t know of any Sergio Novello, though they are certainly family. What did he say?"
The detective reached into a pocket and pulled out a small sheaf of paper. He glanced at it for a moment then handed it to Grim
"Normally we would not share this with you but I have been given authority to give you as much information as you require. It seems that Inspector Jones holds you in some regard and has asked that we give you every assistance."

The mercenary glanced at the top sheet, it was the transcript of a telephone conversation as well as the number of the caller. The other sheets held the results of some investigations into the whereabouts of the Ambassador, all drew a blank so far. Along with the reports there was the reports from the forensics investigation of her apartment. Some fingerprints were identified some were not, sadly the identified ones didn&#39;t reveal anything useful.

"Thank you, and give my thanks to James too, this is very helpful. If you could do one more thing for me, I would like to know where this mobile phone is currently? I would like to have a word with this cousin of Ms Aligheri, as soon as I get fit enough."
The detective nodded his assent.
"I can do that for you sir, the doctors tell me that you should be fit to travel in a couple of days, I will have the information you want sent over to you at your hotel, you will be able to return there later today when the doctors have checked on your wounds."
He paused and looked at the older man for a moment before speaking again.
"I don&#39;t suppose you saw the person who shot you?"
"No I didn&#39;t see the man in detail, he shot as soon as I turned the corner at the top of the stairs. I I had a feeling something was wrong but could do nothing other than try and dodge. I dived to my right he would have hit me in the head or throat had I not"

It was strange he could see the events in his minds eye as if he had been watching a film, there was no feeling of emotion it was as if it all happened to someone else. But for that he had no clear view of the assailant the face was a blur nothing to distinguish it in his mind, he knew he would never recognise the man no matter how hard he tried. It really didn&#39;t matter who it was, but he had vowed not to leave his guns behind again.

"Thank you Mr Theoman, it is a shame you cannot help to identify the attacker. Inspector Jones said your recall was uncanny at moments like that, I will not trouble you futher for now. If you leave the city could you let Interpol know where you can be contacted?"
"I will do that certainly."

The Interpol detective bowed his head briefly and left Grim alone. Once the policeman left the mercenary moved his shoulders feeling the tightness of the wounds under dressings, he had been lucky there was no major damage done just blood loss and some new scars. He really was getting too old for this shit. He spent some time reading the reports that the detective had handed him.
The first thing that caught his eye was a comment in the telephone transcript, where the cousin claimed he had an appointment with Seraphina. Grim knew that it could not be the case as she was already missing when he claimed to have the appointment. He knew that it was a cousin who had caused the disturbance on L01, and she had claimed that a cousin had objected to her role in politics, and now another cousin from the Novello side of the family was looking for her and by the look of things in France. Well that gave him somewhere to start looking, even if it didn&#39;t lead to Seraphina it would give him something to do.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:55 pm

The file that he had been given by Interpol was more complete than he had expected. Since the report of Seraphina&#39;s disapearance was made by one Sergio Novello they had spent some time investigating him. There was a note saying that his known e-mail was being monitored and all ports and airports were to keep a look out for him passing through.

Grim was thankful for the dull-minded stubbornness of the police as it was working for him. On the afternoon of his attack in Florence a man flew to Versailles in France and booked into the best hotel in the city using the name Sergio Novello.

So the plot thickens, he thought to himself, maybe this Sergio has a lead that I do not know of. He might lead me to the Ambassador.

He read on, there was little else of interest except a couple of file references that appeared to be linked with the name Sergio Novello. Had he been a bad boy in the past. Sadly the Detective had not thought to include the files to which the references linked, still it would be interesting to find out if there was anything more to these.

In spite of the copious amounts of pain killers swilling through his system pain was starting to hit his shoulder, and it was only a couple of days since he had been shot so the effort of sitting up and reading the notes was tiring him.

He lay back down again and closed his eyes to ease the ache in his shoulder, it was a testament to modern medical techniques and drugs that he was able to move at all. He was fit and though not young nor was he old, he would be able to get about a bit tomorrow though he would not be able to fly his jet again until he had a full medical.

As these thoughts ran through his head he drifted off to sleep the pain killers were also making him drowsy. While he slept a doctor came in and studied the monitors making positive sounds to herself as she did so. She made some notes on the chart on his bed and then ticked the box marked Able to be Discharged.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:04 am

The sound of machine-gun fire woke Grimbold, for a moment he was disoriented not knowing where he was there was a pain in the side of his neck where the kevlar body armour was digging in. He shook his head to clear the drowsiness.

The expected attack was coming sooner than they had thought. The competition in munitions manufacture was getting intense and the rival corporation was keen to get new developments without the expense of research. Or rather the research and development departments of some corporations was heavily armed and their research was offensive to say the least.

Now Grimbold and his small troupe were the thin line between two rival companies after the same innovation. He had placed the perimiter sentries and they were doing their job of keeping the enemy at bay for the moment, that was the gunfire he heard, automated sentry units that opened fire on anything that moved without the appropriate radio authorisation signal.

They had placed the remote sentries on the three entrances to the building, it was the one in the north east that had fired. It rang out again and he called to a half dozen of his men to follow him to that part of the building. The rest would stay where they were, ten of them to listen for other attacks.

They crept in pairs towards the entrance each providing cover for the other. They got to the doorway the sentry was just outside and it fired again a long sustained burst that ended in a ringing explosion. One of the attackers had thrown a grenade which would knock out the sensors of the sentry. Still with luck it had served it&#39;s purpose and given them warning of the attack. The doorway led into a largish room with three other doors off it. The doors were all wedged open the lights off all the troop were using IR goggles. They spread out a pair to each doorway where they could provide a crossfire to pin down the enemy when they came in.

For some time everything was quiet nobody moved faintly the sounds of stealthy activity came from beyond the door. It was armoured and hard to break but a well placed shaped charge would get through it. Grim signalled to his men to close the fire-doors to the corridors. It would offer them some protection when the charge went off and give them perhaps some element of surprise.

There was a crashing explosion and the ringing of a section of the door hitting the floor. The firedoors held shielded them from the blast, the teams opened them and forced wedges to hold them open. The entrance hall was filled with smoke and dust the IR goggles cut through the worst of it, tracer rounds came through the ruined door slapping into the walls and splintering plaster off to add to the dust of the explosion.

Grim and two of his colleagues fired a few shots through the shattered doorway to keep the enemy away from the door. Another explosion shook the room someone from outside had thrown a grenade hoping to get through the doorway but it had bounced off the doorway outside. Regardless they were ready for the possibility of a flashbang. Hoping to see if anybody tried to approach the breach from outside and dissuade them from approaching.

At that point the sound of another sentry echoed from the other side of the building. Grim and his team ignored it the others would take care of things there. At the same time a figure loomed green against the smoke through the shattered door. Grimbold fired a couple of rounds at the shape, it fell back either hit or simply out of the line of fire. More firing came from outside one round ploughed into the wall just over Grimbold&#39;s head covering him in dust from the plaster that showered down around him.

There was more movement from outside shapes flashed past the hole and more covering fire rang in and splattered against the remains of the door. They waited allowing the attackers to come closer giving them the illusion of success. Only Grim and his two companions could see through the doorway and it was them who would take the brunt of the initial burst through the door.

The sounds of fighting came from the southern most door, Grim had not to let it distract him, his problem was what was going on here. The next few minutes went past in a blur of gunfire and shouting. The intruders made it in to the doorway and then all hell broke loose all three teams had chance to attack the invaders and they were driven back and counter attacked twice. eventually they broke and ran the defenders followed and fired more shots as they ran. One of them stopped and dropped to the ground a second later a round crashed into Grimbold&#39;s chest the body armour took the edge off it but the impact knocked him back and he could not breath.

He woke, a voiceless scream echoing in his head, he was clawing at his chest unable to draw breath. Slowly he became aware of where he was the soft glow of the monitor screens lit the room and light came in from the gap under the door. The hospital room in Florence he had been dreaming taken back to the first time he had been shot there was only a small scar on his chest where the round had cracked through the armour he remembered it all with horrible clarity his lieutenant administering the field dressing the blood oozing from the wound on his chest but that was all history. His first blood.

The time was coming soon when he would hang up his mercenary status for good, become something else. It was not as if he needed the money and the thrill had long since gone. It was now just the people he met that made him come back to it. The scientists, researchers and ambassadors that he became friends with even in some cases loved. No it was nearly time to give up, he was at last ready. After one thing he had to find the Ambassador protect her make sure she could do her best to aid the cause of peace.

He rose from the bed and found some clothes in the chest by it and dressed. He was still dazed from the dream and slightly dozy with pain killers but he had to be on his way. There was a phone in the room and he used it to call for a taxi to take him to the hotel. He picked up his medical notes and took them to the nurses station down the corridor.

He pointed to where it said he was ready for discharge and walked past. He took a lift down to the main entrance and waited for the taxi.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:42 am

It was dark and a chill wind from the north brought with it a thin drizzle, a Mercedes taxi pulled up at the large glass doors and Grimbold asked the driver for his hotel. He climbed into the back of the car and sat looking out of the side window as they pulled out into the light traffic. The mercenary watched the lights of the city drift past he felt numb, detached from himself, probably the drugs were effecting his judgement. His mind wandered as he gazed unseeing at the beauty of the city.

He closed his eyes and blinked to clear the disorientation he felt. The familiar sights of Dublin drifted past he knew he should be feeling something now but there was nothing, as if he were empty. It was late at night he was heading off to bed knowing his parents were due home any moment. The farm was isolated and they could well be late but he knew he had to be in bed before they returned. He padded up the stairs head full of the physics homework he had been doing. The A level exams were coming up in only a couple of months and he had to do well to get to his first choice of Dublin University.
OOC: Note for Americans and other Aliens reading this A level exams are the advanced exams that are taken around 17 or 18 here and are the qualifications for undergraduate study at university.For some reason he found it hard to fall asleep the gentle rain, soft he would call it, pattered against the window not heavy but enough to keep him awake for a change. He had been lying there over an hour when the phone downstairs started to ring. He rose and wrapped a robe around himself, it was still not all that warm although spring was fading into early summer.

He answered the phone and a stranger with an accent he could not place asked for his parents.

"I am sorry they are out for the night, can I take a message?"
"Night? Sorry I forgot the time difference I apologise. No there is no message."

The line went dead and the young man stood for a moment looking at the receiver perplexed. He carefully placed it back on the hook and jumped as there came a banging at the front door.

He turned to the door calming down a little bit shook himself as the knocking came again. He opened the door, outside in the damp stood two officers from the Guarda.

"I am sorry to disturb you so late but are you Darragh O&#39;Brien?"
The youth just nodded his head stunned and surprised by the night&#39;s events.
"Do you mind if we come in for a moment" The second officer was a woman she stepped forward and took Darragh gently by the arm and led him into the hallway as her colleague followed them in.
"Is there somewhere we can sit down?" She asked her voice full of concern. Darragh nodded dumbly and led the pair into the drawing room. They sat around a low coffee table and from then on the whole night took on a surreal turn. The two Guarda told Darragh of an accident his parents car apparently off the road, mysterious circumstances, a straight section, no reason, none of it meant anything to the young man.

He asked to see them the officers tried to dissuade him but he was adamant he went to his room and dressed, then the three of them got into the police car and set off on the three hour drive into Dublin where his parents had been rushed by air ambulance after the incident. He sat watching the lights of the city slide past the blue and red lights on the car roof reflecting back off shop windows.

He was shown into a cold white room there was a row of tables along the far wall two of them held what looked like bodies covered with white sheets, even now the two officers were trying to suggest that he wait. Slowly he approached the two occupied tables and he rolled the sheets back on them one at a time. He broke down. Tears came. The cold empty feeling inside, a feeling he had not even been aware was there, was swept away in a rush of grief and horror.

It was some time later that he became aware of his surroundings again. He felt different too, he was aware of the feeling of loss but there was something overlaid on top a feeling of power and strength.

Now he realised that was the last time he had cried, felt that loss until this very year when he had talked of Sara his wife to a stranger on an airless artificial world in space. The Mercenary was not the same man maybe Grimbold Theoman had died in that apartment after all. He shut his eyes and closed out the view of Florence until the driver informed him they were at the hotel.

Darragh paid the driver and headed back to his room. He fell on the bed and wept.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sun Oct 22, 2006 2:55 pm

He must have fallen asleep at some point during the night for it was light when he woke. His head ached with the after effects of his emotional outburst, and lack of sleep.

He moved and was aware for the first time of how effective the pain killers he had been fed at the hospital had been. His shoulder and back reminded him that only a couple of days before he had been shot, twice. He got undressed and pulled the padded dressing off the two wounds leaving only the thin transparent ones in place. The bruising was almost as good as Seraphina&#39;s had been under her make-up. It was painful to move and he could not drive or fly but he had to follow up the lead he had been given.

He took a shower and dressed again this time adding one of his two shoulder holsters. The irony was that he had to put the right one on over the two wounds as he couldn&#39;t draw with the right arm. Still there was a small part of him that welcomed the reminder of his stupidity of the other day, while the rest of him hoped he would never need to use the thing. At least he could draw and shoot as well with his left hand as his right, many hours of repeated practice had stood him in good stead now, at least the time was not wasted as it had seemed then.

Once dressed he ordered breakfast in his room, grapefruit followed by kedgeree and plenty of tea. Darragh sat at the table and started to make a list in his head of what to do next. The first thing would be to find out as much about Sergio Novello, something of his background, what he did. Then to check if Interpol had been monitoring his e-mail. Next objective would be to find where he had gone to if he was trying to track Seraphina then Darragh would need to follow him to make sure that he didn&#39;t find her or if he did that he was stopped before he could harm her. Three days ago Grim would have just shot him dead and left it at that but now unless there was no other option he would not, it was a matter for the authorities and no family would be powerful enough to hush this up. Finally he would call in every single favour he was owed, well at least from people he could rely upon to be discrete and see if he could not do something to find the Ambassador himself.

His first call after he had eaten was to Inspector James Jones. First to thank him and second to start the search for the Ambassador.

"James, I have something to ask you. This needs to be done very much on the QT no names given but I need people to be looking out for women answering the description of Ambassador Aligheri. However I have seen her wearing a wig, so it is not impossible that she has changed her hair. I would not expect her to be wearing anything ostentatious either, I feel there is a lot more about her than would appear. She is not just and art student that got into politics. I think she may also have had help to evade detection. She may have gone to France and Versailles has been suggested but I am not sure, somehow that doesn&#39;t feel right. However it is the best lead I have at the moment and so I am going to take it."
The policeman was silent while Darragh spoke though he could hear the scratching of a pen on paper as notes were being made.
"You are asking a lot of me with this stuff Grim, and you know it."
"No I am bloody well not, I have done a damn sight more for you than I have ever asked, and I wouldn&#39;t be asking now if this was not important to me. I have never done anything more important so don&#39;t give me that crap; you owe me your bloody life that night in Belfast so do this for me and we are quits. Come on James you know me. Just do this for me, please."
"You knew I would before you ever called didn&#39;t you? Don&#39;t bother to deny it I know you. Your right you did save me and there&#39;s many in your profession as would have gladly left me die. Don&#39;t worry about it I will get things going as soon as I can. Only trusted officers, nobody I don&#39;t know personally. Take care of yourself and try not to be so much of target in future."
"Thank you James. Don&#39;t worry I don&#39;t intend to be a target any more. Bye for now."

The erstwhile mercenary hung up and looked at the phone for a moment. They had never spent any real time together but Darragh knew that the policeman was reliable he could be trusted.

He made a few more calls to a very small number of people he knew he could rely upon and went back to the report about Sergio Novello and wondered what the two cases were about.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:24 am

The day passed slowly Darragh spent the time in his rooms he attemted to watch the television but the pain of his wounds and effects of the painkillers caused his attention to wander and with it he drifted into and out of sleep he was woken about mid day, dissoriented by a sudden explosion, before he realised it was a film on the tv.

He ordered lunch and drifted back to sleep before it was delivered. The knock of room service broke into his light doze a little later. It was amazing how good a simple salmon and citrus dressing salad was and the hotel even managed a passable tea. The afternoon passed in much the same way as the morning his mobile phone continued not to ring and there was no email of any significance when he remembered to check.

Dinner time came and went in a kind of trance like state. No news came from anywhere about the Ambassador nor Darragh's own quarry

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sat Feb 24, 2007 11:34 am

The erstwhile mercenary went to his bed early, the drugs to aid healing and the painkillers were seriously effecting his ability to remain conscious. He slept fitfully waking occasionally with pain in the shoulder and back. An alarm went off at four hour intervals for him to take more medication, not that it was needed he was not asleep.

He had a quick breakfast about eight and showered and dressed afterwards. He still couldn&#39;t draw with his right arm so fitted just one holster and gun, at least today it was not so painful to have the gun on his right shoulder. A brief check of e-mail revealed nothing of importance.

Darragh decided to take a trip into the old centre of Florence and take a gentle amble through the seat of the Renaissance in Europe soaking in the sights and the pure unadulterated history. There were places that one could never tire of. Il Duomo and Giotto&#39;s tower, The Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and across the bridge the Pitti Palace.

Even though he did not take the time to enter any of these places, Darragh took many hours to walk carefully through the city. He took a leisurely lunch at a small pavement café on the corner of Via Della Terme. By the time he had finished and was on his way he could not remember what he had eaten, it was taking all his concentration to remain awake and alert. Once he got to the Pitti Palace and with the afternoon getting uncomfortably warm he called for a taxi to pick him up. It took some time for the car to arrive but when it did it felt like luxury getting into the air conditioned interior.

It was just as the car pulled up outside the hotel that Grim&#39;s phone rang, it was the Italian Interpol Detective, Aldo Ceconni.

"Hello Detective, have you any information for me?"
There was a brief pause at the other end, almost as if the policeman felt it was wrong to be telling this outsider what he was about to.
"Yes we have learned that Sergio Novello spent a night in a hotel in Versialles before checking in to the Ritz Carlton in Paris yesterday."
"Thank you Detective your help has been invaluable I will keep the authorities in Paris informed of developments as and when they occur. Could you also pass my thanks on to Inspector Lombardi."
Darragh stopped talking a thought had occurred to him.
"Was there something else?" The detective sounded slightly concerned.
"No, no it was nothing just a thought, I may be in touch again soon I may have something more that you can do for me but I will need to think over it before I decide. Again my thanks for all your help, I will be in touch."

Darragh hung up and sat in the back of the car lost in thought, the drivers forced coughing brought him back to himself. He paid with a healthy tip and went into the hotel. He called at the desk and asked if they could book him on the first available flight to Paris. Having done that he went up to his suite to pack. It took only a few minutes for the receptionist to call back with the news that the first available flight was not until eleven the following morning. Well it would have to do.

Almost as soon as he hung up the hotel phone the fatigue he had been keeping at bay by sheer strength of will pounced. He was reminded that his wounds though healing well were still new and another night of nearly quiet sleep would only do him good.

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