Wincing as she sipped a delectable cup of Ditta Artigianale’s expresso, aptly named “diesel dynamite,” Lithium carefully inventoried the contents of her specially outfitted backpack.
Then, she lined her pant pockets with euros, prepaid credit cards, and Goliath’s specially engineered emergency beacon/encrypted cell phone. The rest of the backpack’s contents—she left in its hidden compartment, intact.
Recalling Goliath’s advice, she dialed…a friend.
“Hey it’s me, I am in town. Are you up for an adventure?”
The raspy voice of Lithium’s former partner in the trade, known only as BMG replied,
“Ah, Lithium-ion like the battery that keeps on going—good to hear your voice, my friend. An adventure? Knowing you as I do, I had better hear the details first before I commit. Talk to me.”
“Not on the phone, let’s meet at your favorite coffee shop, one hour?”
“Sure thing. See you soon.”
“Now,” BMG whispered as he sipped his favorite “coffee”—more accurately, his cup of steamed oat milk with an eye drop of expresso,
“I appreciate the free coffee, but what could you not share over the phone? Is it like one of those—’end of the world,’ threat of annihilation missions you are famous for divining?”
Lithium’s silence made BMG shift in his seat as he watched her expression fold into a reply,
“Something like that,” Lithium whispered back, “Credible sources have informed Goliath that weapons-grade nuclear material will be auctioned off today, under city hall. Our former employer is the seller.”
“But, but…alarms would go off if nuclear materials were to be brought into the city. The authorities have sensors all over town for such an eventuality—” BMG protested.
“Yes, but not in the catacombs.”
“To that end, I took a snapshot of the original map of the city’s catacombs housed in the Vatican’s vault. That little fact-finding adventure ended in a late-night jump, off the Basilica’s steeple. Fortress seems to know my moves before I make them.”
“This is serious my friend! Of course, I will help. Who else have you got on the team? It sounds like you need an army. Fortress will no doubt be ready for any threat to their plan.”
“Goliath will handle that end. And, did I mention the slight inconvenience of the price on my head after… Danny’s ‘disappearance‘.”
“I am so sorry Lithium, I know that you and Danny… uh, I mean, “Spindraft” had been close. He was the strongest of us—a legend.”
Lithium knew this was too easy. One, BMG never ever agrees to work without discussing payment first. Two, normally a person of few and guarded words; he was uncharacteristically chatty. And three, Lithium knew that he was not a fan of her late fiancée; therefore, BMG’S feigned attempt at empathy grieved her soul like an ocean of glass greets a falling boulder.
As the hairs on the back of her neck rewarded her with the eerie sense of a sniper’s laser sight trained on the back of her skull—BMG smiled sweetly sipping his “coffee.”
Then, BMG shifted his torso without making it obvious that he had positioned himself out of the line of fire—a trick he had taught her.
At that moment Lithium lunged to Ditta Artigianale’s floor and kicked one of the famous cafe’s tables in the air.
The bullet ricocheted off the careening table and sliced through BMG’s coffee cup with a sharp twang as the cup shattered in his hands. The hollow point bullet landed center mass in BMG’s strangely bulky jacket.
BMG’s body crashed to the ground for a brief moment. After which, he stood— stunned, and groaning, but otherwise unharmed. Staggering, he raced out of the cafe’s side entrance to a scene of mass panic as patrons and passersby came somehow to the revelation that a shot had been fired.
Lithium slipped out the cafe’s staff exit amid the ensuing commotion, startling a flock of pigeons foraging nearby. Striding among the soaring birds as if she had suddenly sprouted wings; she welcomed the auspicious event as a good omen.
*** To be continued Next Sunday***