Monthly Archives: March 2014

Chapter 34.

The police station.
Just as Maria and Pierce were leaving the scene of the crime the police had arrived on a tip given by Gwen and blocked the car of Maria so as to prevent all escape.

“Please put your hands up and do not move,” said a burly police officer in Spanish to Maria and Pierce. The police officer went up to them, put the handcuffs on and led them to the patrol car.

“You have to understand that we did nothing wrong.” Maria was amazed at the turn of events. The other police officer scampered up the hill and found Joanna lying in a pool of blood. He notified by radio to the other police officer that yes indeed, there was a body up there.

Pierce decided to speak to them. “Look, I am an American citizen and you are making a grave mistake.”

The police officer in the car told him directly, “Sir, you and the lovely lady are accused of murdering a poor woman in those famous ruins of ours. Anything you say to me could be used in court against you.”

Maria had an inkling of what was going on. She whispered to Pierce, “Don’t waste your time. This is all the doing of that treacherous woman. She probably tipped them off when she left. We might need a lawyer.”

Pierce reflected on that. He knew that the only lawyer he would need to call was his lawyer, John P. Stevens. He might be able to do something and pull some strings for him. They were brought back to the local station and put in separate cells with other prisoners with Pierce thrown in a cell with drunks and thieves.

“I want to call a lawyer, I am an American, I want a lawyer,” cried out Pierce, desperate to get out of prison. Soon after he heard the lumbering steps of the burly officer who sported not a smile but a long stick in his hand. He opened the cell and at that same moment the other petty criminals in the cell separated them themselves from Pierce, opening up like Moses opening the Red Sea. He was alone face to face with the burly officer. The other police officer came to the cell and promptly closed it behind them.

“Alright Mr. American gringo, let me show you my lawyer. He’s not big but he can be very mean and very persuasive when disturbed. But of course, he’s cheaper than a regular lawyer because he’s free.” And at those words the police officer smiled and unleashed a barrage of hits to the body of Pierce who even if he was young and healthy, was not exactly into fitness and martial arts. His flabbiness luckily insulated him from much of the blows that were delivered. The hits did not sting at first but after a few minutes of this regiment Pierce tried to respond. He tried to punch and kick but this only inflamed the wrath of the officer. The stick came down on him even more furiously after he resisted.

The other police officer outside the cell at first simply smiled and looked on, egging on the other officer. But when he saw Pierce trying to respond to the blows he jumped in as well. Both officers were now yielding the stick and hitting Pierce. The other prisoners made sure to stay in a corner so as not to be caught in the crossfire and remained mere spectators. At that point Pierce was on the floor, with the hits from both officers continuing albeit at a slower pace. The burly officer then said to his colleague.

“Manuel, I think that this gringo has had enough of my lawyer and yours, what do you think?”

“Yes Claudio, I think that you’re right. You’re lawyer was quite persuasive in his arguments.” At these words both laughed and left the cell, wiping the sweat from their faces and giving mean looks to the other prisoners. “Remember you vermin, you never saw anything!” the burly man called Claudio said in leaving. Pierce was on the floor in the foetal position, with a bloody face and his body black and blue. He was not moving.

 

 

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Chapter 33.

The Map.

Gwen returned quickly to her hotel with the map. There, a phone call to the police telling them a murder had occurred was an easy way of creating mischief for Maria and Pierce. She now had the original map drawn by the uncle of Pierce and began studying it. It was very clear where it indicated the gold deposits. The problem was that the gold was situated very near the sacred stream flowing underneath it and caves were situated in the area that gave a secret access to the stream. The gold had been deposited a long time ago by previous guardians and it had been collected and deposited away from the stream. But now as Gwen looked at the map, it was clear that someone had collected the gold and had deposited in a secret cache exactly on top of where the stream was located. People could eventually find the stream or discover the entrance to one of the caves and discover the stream. Something had to be done.

The gold was located near the shores of the mighty river that flows through the sacred valley called the Rio Urubamba. The sacred stream protected by the guardians was directly underneath the mighty river and in fact followed the same course, a perfect mirror of the river. Gwen knew what had to be done; dig up all the gold that was collected there and disperse it away from the Rio Urubamba, in a different direction. To know is one thing but to do is quite another. How to collect the gold in a way that did not attract attention, and then deposit it away from the sensitive areas? She knew that she would need the help of some of the natives, perhaps also her two henchmen, Drake and Acton. Maybe a make-believe archaeological dig would do the trick. She could get the necessary permits easily through her contacts. One thing was sure, giving the map as it was to Pierce and Maria would have invited problems as they might have expanded the dig and would have found the caves and the stream.

She decided to contact John Drake and Stewart Acton to get them to dig up the gold. She first had to contact Susan Drake, who would then give the instructions to her husband. And perhaps Eliza would contact her husband, Pedro. More hands meant that the dig could be done quicker.

She first called up Susan Drake. “Susan, this is Gwen. I want you to contact your good for nothing husband right away and tell him to meet me at the hotel Liberator where I am now in Cusco. I don’t know where your husband is now. The last time I saw him he was on the ground with a bloody face. I’m sure you know what happened by now.” Susan knew quite well what had happened. John Drake had reported to her the small incident of the jail and his drunkenness and afterwards his encounter with the head guardian. “Yes of course, I know where he is. He is still in Cusco. I will tell him to meet you at the hotel. Anything else?”

“Yes. Tell him to bring along Acton as well.”

“Alright. It shall be done.”

The exchange had been rather cold but courteous. After all, Susan still wanted to move up the organization and join the Nine eventually. Giving the cold shoulder to the head guardian would simply not do.

Gwen then decided to call up Eliza. Her husband was with the expedition of Pierce but Gwen thought it best for Pedro to join Drake and Acton and lead them to the gold so they could retrieve it. She called up Eliza, explained the situation and arranged for Eliza to tell her husband to join Gwen at the hotel for further instructions. Luckily Pedro had not contacted Pierce or Maria yet. Now all was in order for Gwen.

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Chapter 32.

Pierce and Maria in Machu Pichu.

They had taken the road back to the ancient city in the hope of finding indications of what when wrong. Surely there was more to it and they were looking for clues. “Alright, here we are. Let’s go up the hill quickly but quietly.” Pierce was following closely, looking behind him just in case but no one was following them. They went directly to the Temple of the Sun and looked around. No one was in the vicinity. They went straight to the area where the two sticks with the crystals had indicated. “Here we are. Let’s look closely around the area, maybe under the carving again,” Maria said.

Pierce examined where the map had been located but found nothing out of the ordinary. “For my part I see nothing that would indicate a possible substitution with another map.”

“I agree with you. It looks quite normal to me. Nothing seemed to have been displaced around the area. I am really disappointed.” As they were going back downhill they heard cars coming and tires screeching. It was Joanna with Gwen following closely behind her. Joanna had stopped briefly at the hotel that Pierce and Maria had stayed but had not found them there. In desperation she had decided to go to the ruins. She climbed out of her car and noticed another car parked not far from she was. She was hoping that indeed it was the car of Maria. But Gwen was not far behind and that had not escaped Joanna. She had sped up and had arrived a few minutes ahead of the head guardian. She climbed the hill to the ruins as quickly as possible and tried to locate Maria and Pierce so that she could give them the map. She was going towards the Temple of the Sun when she saw them coming towards her. She waved and shouted at them excitedly. “Mr. Pierce, I have something that might interest you.” At that she opened the pouch and showed the map. Pierce and Maria exploded in joy at that sight.

“I knew it. I knew that we had been double-crossed.” Maria exulted. “I knew there was more to this than met the eye.”

“Indeed there is. But there are strings attached with this gift. You must help me for the future, in case I am prosecuted for possible involvement in crimes. Will you testify on my behalf?” Joanna was trembling. She feared for her life, and rightly so. Suddenly, as she was about to open her mouth a small trickle of blood began to flow from her left breast. She looked at her breast with surprise and put her hand on it as if she doubted that it was her own blood. And then it happened; a small hand shot out of nowhere and covered her mouth, pulling her head back. Another small hand holding a blade appeared and made a sideways motion, slitting her throat. Joanna made a small grunt, fell on her knees and slumped slowly on the ground revealing behind her a small woman with fierce features and sporting a devilish grin. Gwen grabbed the map from Joanna’s hands, stood up and looked at Pierce and Maria.

“ If I were you I would leave this city, and even this country Mr. Pierce. You are way over your head in this.” She still had the bloody knife in her hands. She coolly wiped the blade off Joanna’s vest, holding it in her left hand and looking straight at the pair of explorers.

“Who are you? And why did you kill her?” Pierce wanted answers.

“Who I am is of no concern to you. Please be aware that I just gave you a warning, and to you as well Maria. Leave this city now, for your own good. And, please, no word to the police of this. It was simply a business dealing that went bad, for her of course.” Gwen had a smirk on her face as she looked down on the body of Joanna. Pierce advanced towards her, intent on getting that map out of her hand. “I see no reason to leave this country, especially now that I know that there is a map that will lead me to the gold as surely you must know.” He continued advancing cautiously towards her while Maria stayed back, afraid of the knife in Gwen’s hand.

“Be careful Jake!” Maria said.

“If it is gold that you want, I can offer you some in exchange for your departure. How is that for a trade, Mr. Pierce. Some gold for you and you leave.” Gwen wanted to protect the secret at all cost, and if that meant giving more gold to him then so be it. The gold was irrelevant to her.

Pierce continued advancing slowly on her. “Do you seriously think that I would enter a business deal with a murderer? Do you? Give me the map, now!” At these words Pierce threw caution to the air and flew at Gwen. Unfortunately for him, Gwen took him by the wrist, threw her foot behind his and he landed on the ground. His arm was twisted and out of her left hand magically appeared the knife.

“It seems that Mr. Pierce is deaf. Perhaps I should sharpen his ears for him.” She looked at him and smiled at the expression of terror on his face. She decided that she had had enough of this little game. She left Pierce on the ground writhing in pain and quickly ran back down the hill to her car and sped off clutching the map in her hand. Maria suddenly awoke from her self-induced stupor provoked by the killing and the appearance of Gwen. She knew that Gwen was not an ordinary criminal, but Pierce did not. She rapidly went to Pierce. “Are you okay?” she asked as Pierce slowly peeled himself off the ground.

“I guess she left with the map. We must pursue her.” Pierce was despondent at the loss of it. Maria tried her best to cheer him up.

“ Look, don’t worry about the map. At least we know who has it now. We are advancing but we now must be much more careful. This woman is dangerous and do you know why? Because she seems to be one of the guardians. “

“You think that she was one of them?” Pierce was not convinced.

“I can assure you that the way she killed that woman tells me that she would stop at nothing in order to protect the map. I have had dealings with these people. They are very sensitive when you start digging in some sacred areas to them. But this time, the warning given to you was very strong and I would seriously consider it.” Maria was very serious about this. In fact, she would seriously consider dropping the expedition because of the seriousness of the threat. No gold is worth giving up your life. But Pierce was not convinced.

“Look, I have gone through numerous ups and downs for this gold which, I should remind you, belongs to my uncle who left it to be found by me. I need that map in order to get the gold. I have staked everything in my life in order to find that gold. And I have that lawyer Stevens pushing me as well. I must get that map. I need your help and as far as I am concerned our agreement is still valid and you must honour it.”

Maria and Pierce were slowly walking across the ruins, descending back towards their car when Maria, after some thought, decided to speak. “Alright, I will continue this search with you. But make no mistake, we are under surveillance and we must be careful. From now on we must be armed. Do you agree?”

Jake Pierce was not someone who was at ease with firearms but he reluctantly agreed that they had to protect themselves. Yes, they must be armed he thought. “Fine, we will carry firearms.”

As Pierce was entering the car with Maria, a police car arrived and placed themselves behind the car of Maria to block its escape. Two officers got out and aimed squarely their guns at them, barking orders in Spanish. Pierce did not need a translator to understand what was demanded of them.

“Put your hands in the air and don’t move, understood?

“But officer we are innocent!” shouted Maria.

Maria and Pierce understood what had happened. Obviously Gwen had been involved in this with a simple phone call to the local police station. They were being framed for murder.

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Chapter 31.

Joanna.

After leaving the head guardian Joanna took her car and left Cusco, not knowing where to go or what to do. She was still sobbing and clutching the wheel for dear life afraid of what would happen now. Going to the police was out of the question as she was an accomplice, just as Gwen had said. She drove on towards Machu Pichu and decided that yes, she would go there and find Pierce and Maria. Her only hope of a lenient sentence in case of arrest was if the whole system collapsed. Only then would she be safe from retribution from the others.

The more she thought about it the better it sounded. Contact Pierce and Maria, explain that there was a substitution of the maps at the Temple of the Sun, and give them the real map with all the information about the gold and the secret stream. By exposing everything she could get protection. But there was one problem; she did not have the real map. It was Sara that had ordered the substitution and only she knew where it was now. She stopped the car on the side of the road to reflect on the situation. It was quite possible that the map was still at the hotel in the safe as Sara must have brought the map with her.

She swerved the car in the other direction towards Cusco. She was not that far anyways and if she was right it could save her. All she had to do at the hotel is check for a map in the safe in the name of Sara or Gwen. But would the hotel clerk accept to open the safe? If he refused she would offer him a bribe. It was risky but she could not go empty handed to see Maria and Pierce. She arrived at the hotel at the same moment that Gwen was leaving. After a moment of surprise on her part Joanna said the right things but only after some questioning by Gwen.

“I thought you had left for Lima?”

“Well I was about to but then I remembered that Sara had a map with her and I did not know what had happened to it or if you knew about this.”

“No need to worry, I have the map here safely with me.” As she talked Gwen pointed at a leather pouch to Joanna.

Suddenly the thought of snatching the pouch and making a run for it appealed to Joanna. She stepped forward and gave a sharp elbow to the head of Gwen who promptly fell back on her behind, stunned. The pouch was lying on the sidewalk. Joanna pounced on it and ran towards her car, started the engine and made off, leaving the head guardian still bewildered by what had happened. By the time Gwen was able to move again Joanna was gone. She now had what she needed to help her out of the mess that she was in. She promptly took the road to Cusco in the hope of finding Maria and Jake Pierce. There was one problem; as she looked in her rear-view mirror she saw that she was being followed by Gwen from afar.

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Chapter 30.

Eliza.

Eliza was in Cusco for the meeting of the Nine when she received the call from her husband.

“Eliza, it’s me, Pedro. I’m in prison.”

“What! What happened. I thought you were in the expedition along with the others.”

“Yes I was. But then I decided to snoop around the area in the Reserve on my own when we were caught by the natives.” Pedro said.

“You should have been more careful, I told you that the area was under surveillance. You should have contacted me before you tried something foolish like that!.” Eliza was fuming. She knew that Gwen would want an explanation for that.

“You got to get me out of there, I could be months inside, you know that.”

Eliza knew how the justice system worked in Peru but with some grease the wheels of justice could turn much quicker. “Don’t worry, I will get you out and then you will explain everything to me.” She knew what to do and who to call. The man worked in the higher echelons of the police and the security department. He was associated with the Nine, but in an indirect way as he was the husband of one of the guardians. It was useful to them to have someone inside the police department so that they could intervene in such cases. One phone call was all that was needed and Pedro was freed from jail, but not Jorge.

“Alright , you can leave.” said the police officer when he opened the door to Pedro.

“Hey, what about me, I’m with him!” exclaimed Jorge. But Pedro passed by him and smiled, following the officer to his desk. He signed the necessary papers for his release just as Eliza entered the station. She waited to exit the station before asking him some pointed questions.

“All right, what happened and I want to know everything.” Eliza was still angry at the embarrassment caused by the arrest of Pedro.

“Well, at one point I thought that around the lake it was possible that other caches of gold were located so I decided…”

“Since when do you decide? Since when? I told you to obey orders given to you and nothing else!” Eliza was angry that her orders had not been respected and she knew that she would have to pay for that. “Now because of you I will have to offer an explanation for what went wrong. What am I supposed to say, that you got lost?”

Pedro looked at Eliza with a sheepish grin on his face. She knew that he was after the gold and nothing else.

“I told you to keep tabs on them, not strike out on your own to find the gold!. When will you learn that I make the rules and that you follow them, especially with such surveillance jobs as these. I had confidence in you and your ability to keep a low profile and collect information about Pierce.”

“Don’t worry, nothing is lost. I can still go back into the expedition. I will say that I got lost along with the others that‘s all.”

“And what about the other guy with you? He saw you leave, what do you think that he will be thinking? And what would he say to Maria and Pierce if he goes back to the expedition?”

“Who cares what he will say! We were lost that’s all! And in any case, before he gets out of jail everything will be finished.”

Eliza reflected that perhaps Pedro was right. Perhaps the “we were lost” excuse could work. And perhaps not. After all, Pedro knew the area and he had told Maria so. Maybe she would not bite on that and she might become suspicious. But it was the best explanation and it was worth a try. “Alright, we will go along with that excuse. Contact Maria and get back in the group. Forget the other guy and let’s see what will happen. But no more going solo on your part, alright?”

“No problem. I will contact them again. I assume that they will still be in Cusco.”

Pedro was relieved that all went well with his wife. He did not intend to mend his ways, he was still going for the gold, all for himself of course. But for now, he had to lay low for a while and follow instructions to the letter.

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