tagSci-Fi & FantasyMystères Élémentaires

Mystères Élémentaires

byAdrian Leverkuhn©

[note: this completes the story, with a new chapter presented here with the original, earlier chapters. I'd consider this a version 1.0 effort for now, too, and at about 115 pages, it's not a short read. Also, while there are loose romantic elements, I'd consider this more sci-fi and properly considered as belonging in the non-erotic category.]

Mystères élémentaires I

Danser avec les etoiles dans la nuit

I

The man sat on the rough, black asphalt, in the sliver of shade afforded by the little jet's wing, wondering how much longer he'd have to wait for the fuel truck to arrive. It felt oppressively hot outside, and very humid, though the sun was about to set. He looked at the hills surrounding this impossibly tiny airstrip and wondered what, exactly, was making his hair stand on end. And why the sensation felt so -- familiar?

The Dassault Falcon 20 had once belonged to FedEx, and though it was painted slate gray now, it still had the cargo door the courier service had originally specified. The cockpit was steam-gauge city, though there was a GPS receiver and an RNAV interface that fed, somehow, into the ancient Bendix flight director -- so the jet's pilots could get into, and out of, some very unlikely airports. This little hole in the wall was one of them, too.

The jet belonged to a outfit registered in Miami, to a company that did the majority of it's business with the CIA, and the pilot had flown for the company for years. He liked the no-nonsense approach to flying, and to life, that working for the company afforded, but he did not like airports like this one. They were a little too far off the road less traveled for his comfort, and maybe that was why he felt so uneasy.

It was called Los Comandos, or more accurately Port lotniczy Los Comandos, and the airstrip was located about a mile due west of the village of Lolotiquillo, in eastern El Salvador, and as Nicaragua was not that far away, Los Comandos was a favorite location to pick up and drop off certain types of "packages" the company needed delivered.

He heard a truck approaching; saw a white Toyota Land Cruiser coming down the road to his right, with two more following, and he relaxed. That would be the Special Forces types working the area, he thought, and they pulled beyond the Falcon and stopped under some shade trees. He watched his co-pilot get out of the lead Toyota, and the driver got out too, and both walked over to the jet. The driver handed him an ice cold Coke, then sat down on the asphalt under the wing.

"What's the word?" the pilot asked his co-pilot, a raw bundle of nerves he knew only by her first name: June. She was cute. She was sexy. And she was available. And he wondered why he hadn't made a move on her yet? Don't shit where you eat? Was it as simple as that?

"Situation Normal, All Fucked Up," she sighed. "The truck went to Delta Baker. It should be here soon, less than a half hour, anyway."

"Sorry, Amigo," the other man said, "my fault. I shoulda confirmed."

"No big," the pilot said. His name was Rob Jeffries, and he looked at June, saw sweat had already soaked through her white shirt and he shook his head.

The other man, Captain Dale Knight, USMC, looked around the hills, shook his head. "Something don't feel right, Amigo," he said, staring at a hillside perhaps a kilometer away.

"I know," Jeffries said. "The hair on the back of my neck has been on end since my feet hit the ground."

"Over there," Knight said, pointing at the hillside. "Something doesn't belong -- looks outta place. That hill look different to you?"

"Yup."

June turned and looked at the hill; she'd flown into Los Comandos a few times, maybe not enough to know the terrain as well as these two, but she looked anyway. The land looked a little like her native New Mexico: rolling, scrub-covered hills, a few small mountains in the distance, the only difference was the forest, which seemed almost arboreal compared to the ones back home. These forests were alive, full of large cats and mean snakes, and she didn't feel comfortable walking around down here -- at all.

Knight went over to his Land Cruiser and pulled out some binoculars and walked back to the Falcon; he swept the hillside then handed them to Jeffries. "What do you think, Rob?"

"Kind of a metallic shimmer -- weird. Must be a couple of hundred yards across."

"When are the spooks due?"

Jeffries looked at his watch, shook his head: "About a half hour, maybe less."

"Think I'll send a platoon over there, see what's up."

Jeffries shook his head. "Too big to be anything -- covert. My guess is it's an optical illusion of some sort, something to do with this humidity."

Knight shook his head, walked to the second Toyota. He pointed out the illusion and explained what he wanted, and that Land Cruiser took off, drove away from the hill. Jeffries knew that several hundred Marines were staged in the area, usually conducting quiet little walks into northern Nicaragua, sometimes Honduras, but he knew Knight was a cool operator -- conservative, not into taking chances or letting someone crawl up his rear.

Knight went back to his Toyota and got on the radio. "Baker x-ray, where's that fuel truck."

"About five out," came the reply.

He walked back to the Falcon. "I'd like you guys to beat feet real quick."

Jeffries nodded, looked at the hill, then at the Falcon. "Me three."

"Gas is about here."

Jeffries heard the radio in the cockpit and dashed over the open cargo door and picked up the hand unit he'd left there, just out of the sun.

"Say again, Ranger two-two, this is Echo echo. Come in."

"Echo echo. Go," Jeffries said.

"We're about five out, got some 25s, repeat 3 times 2-5, over."

"Got it, out." Jeffries sighed, then turned to Knight. "They've got three wounded," then he turned to his co-pilot. "Turn on the GPU, let's get the a/c on -- and ready to get the fuck out of here." He turned, looked at the sun setting behind the shimmering hillside, the shrugged his shoulders.

"Right," she said, then walking over to the ground power unit, she turned on the generator, then turned power on to the Falcon; once power was steady she walked to the little ladder and disappeared into the cockpit. The fuel truck appeared and Marines got out of the Land Cruisers and refueled the Falcon, then one of the Marines hooked up the compressor and called out "Okay to start two" to the co-pilot leaning out her window.

"Time to go do some of that pilot shit," Jeffries said to Knight. "Seeya next time."

"You going to TNT?"

"Yup."

"Good. I'd hate to have to come get your ass in Mexico."

Rob laughed. "And how's that little gal in Aquas Calientes?"

It was an old joke, and they both laughed.

Two Marine UH-1Y Venoms settled on the road and medics carried three stretchers to the Falcon. Two men from the helicopter, dressed in black fatigues, carrying M4 carbines, walked over and spoke to Knight while Jeffries climbed up onto the little jet's cargo deck. He helped get the wounded on their stretchers strapped down, then went forward to the cockpit.

"How's the pressure on two?"

"Good. Steady. Good ratios, too."

"Merida on the GPS?"

"Yup."

"Good girl." He went aft a minute later, saw the wounded had IVs hanging now, and a medic tending them. The two 'men' in black fatigues were both on board, though he saw now that one of them was a woman. He closed the cargo door and set the cross checks, then he turned to the closest spook. "Anything I need to know about?"

The woman turned to him, shook her head. "About two hours, right?"

"Thereabouts, closer to three. What about them?" Jeffries said, pointing at the wounded. "Bad?"

"Medic got the bullets out, sewed 'em up. They're stable."

"I can go into Homestead, maybe MacDill, if the get worse."

"I'll let you know."

"K. Y'all better buckle up. We'll be scootin' in a minute."

"Right."

He went forward, left the door open to help the air conditioning catch up, and they finished with the pre-takeoff checklist. "Gimme flaps ten," he said.

"Ten, check."

"What's Gomer Pyle say? All them trucks and shit out of the way?"

"Clear to taxi," she groaned, hated when he talked like a hick.

"Roger-dodger," Jeffries sighed. Her kicked the rudder over, slaved the nose-wheel and turned hard to the left, then taxied out the runway and made a u-turn at the end. He did his best to line up on the center of the unmarked asphalt strip then ran up the engines to full throttle and watched the gauges, then let off the brakes. The Falcon lurched once, then screamed down the runway -- and when they cleared the trees he cleaned the wing -- then Jeffries banked slightly and flew over the shimmering hill.

"What's it look like," June said, craning her head to see.

"Like a dome, made out of pure energy."

"Weird."

"You got a course for Merida worked out yet?"

"3-4-8."

"Got it."

"Man, I wish we had flight attendants on these crates," she said.

"Yeah? What do you want?"

"A long, tall Texan with a really big dick."

"Jesus, girl, when's the last time you got laid?"

"When's the last time you fucked me?"

"I seem to recall we ain't done it yet."

"Yup. It's been that long."

They both laughed

+++++

"Beagle two," Knight said. "Sitrep."

"Nothin' here, Beagle. I mean -- nada."

"Roger. RTB."

"Two, out."

Knight looked at the hillside, shook his head. As soon as the Falcon took off, the shimmering stopped, and he was going to get on the radio and tell Jeffries -- but for some reason he decided it wasn't important.

+++++

The Falcon's course -- 0-5-7 degrees -- took then directly over the Dry Tortugas, and he flipped the transponder to 5999 and squawked ident, effectively telling ATC the Falcon was a 'dark flight' and to keep traffic out of their way. Jeffries started their descent to 1800 MSL, and made their only radio contact with ATC as the passed just northwest of Key West.

"Casper two niner Echo, 1800, STING to DEEDS, 2-5-0 knots."

"Niner Echo, clear direct to JAXEK, VFR runway 0-9, two niner niner five, wind seven at zero seven five degrees. There's been some unidentified traffic near Everglades City, but the Navy was unable to find anything. Y'all have a good night."

"Sounds good to me," he whispered, his ass on fire after sitting still for almost three hours. "Man, I could use a..."

"A blowjob?" June said, hopefully -- he thought.

"I was going to say a hot shower, but yeah, a B-J wouldn't be too bad right about now. Know anyone I can call?"

"Fuck you," she said, laughing.

"I wouldn't mind getting laid tonight, too," they heard a voice say, and both turned to see the female spook standing in the cockpit door, grinning. "Any volunteers?"

Jeffries thought she looked a little like the pilot in Goldfinger, only meaner, and he turned back to his instruments. "I dunno, June. You swing that way? Feel like munching some rug tonight?"

"No thanks. Tryin' to quit."

"Ah," he said, then he turned back to the spy. "Guess you're stuck with me, darlin'."

"You got a big dick?"

"I dunno. How big's big enough?"

"I need a fuckin' big one. Ten inches minimum. Twelve would be better."

"Sorry, darlin' -- you be flat outta luck tonight. Gimme flaps ten, June." He turned to the spook and winked. "Y'all better buckle up now. We'll be on the ground in a couple."

"Right."

"Localizer set?"

"108.3 -- check."

"Gimme flaps twenty."

"Twenty. Passing JAXEK, begin descent."

"Got it." He started whistling, nothing in particular, as he worked the throttles and the rudder pedals. "Flaps thirty, gears down," he said, looking quickly at the localizer, then the airspeed. "Gimme forty."

"Forty and three green."

He slipped the throttles to idle over the threshold and the Falcon eased onto the runway; he let her speed bleed before he started braking, then he turned off about halfway down the long runway and taxied over to a Gulfstream IV on the ramp.

"Leave two at idle," he said as he went aft, and he opened the cargo door, letting warm, muggy air flood into the cabin. Another UH-1Y settled onto the ramp and more medics jumped out and ran to the Falcon. Once they were aboard Jeffries went back to the cockpit and watched June run through the shut down. "How's our fuel?"

"About a thousand pounds."

"Okay. Let's shut her down."

They walked over to the parking area by the closed terminal building and got in his car, a ten year old BMW 325 coupe, and he started it up, let the engine warm for a half minute while he dug out his gate card. He slipped the transmission into D and headed down the long road to the highway, still whistling absently. TNT, or Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport, is located not quite halfway between Miami and Naples, Florida, and Jeffries was not looking forward to the 60 mile drive back to Naples. It was already midnight, and he'd been up since midnight the night before. He rubbed his eyes, yawned and rubbed away a tear.

"You want me to drive?" June said.

"Whew, I don't know. Man, I'm tired."

"You could use a shower, too."

"Gee, thanks. I think."

She laughed as he pulled up to the automatic gate and he slipped his card in, entered his code and watched the gate roll open, and when he was clear he rolled up his window. "Mind if I turn on the a/c?" He said as he pulled up to the Tamiami Trail, the old, two-lane highway that joined Naples and Miami before the interstate was built. He turned right, put on his high-beams and adjusted his seat again, trying to put out the fire that moved from his ass up into the small of his back, then he sighed as he set the cruise at 65 and settled in for the long haul.

"Shit! What's that!" June said, and he saw half an alligator on the roadway; he slowed to about 15 until they cleared the beast, then he hit resume and the Beemer slipped away.

"Deer and gators," he sighed, "always all over this road."

"Good headlights."

"Decent car, had it a while."

"Always wanted one, never could afford one."

"Buy used. Two years old, just coming off a lease. Usually get a good deal that way. And pay cash, if you can."

She laughed. "Right."

Five miles on a thick fog formed, blanketing the road, then it thinned just a little.

"Weird," he said. "Too warm for fog."

"I didn't smell anything...not smoke...anyway...Rob! What the hell is that?"

She was pointing ahead and to the left, and he followed her finger.

"I have no idea," he said. There were lights -- several hundred yards off the road, deep in the trees, deep in the brackish, swampy mangroves that ran along the Gulf and up into the Everglades -- deep magenta and very bright lights. "Looks like four lights, a gap, and four more lights, in a horizontal array. Does that mean anything to you?"

"No," she said. "I don't know anyone using a pattern like that."

He let off the gas, slowed until they were perpendicular to the lights, then he stopped, put on his hazard lights and rolled down the window -- expecting to hear a helicopter at hover -- but it was silent outside.

"What the fuck is that?" she said quietly, and they both stepped out of the car, still looking at the lights. "Maybe someone's towing an offshore platform. Maybe it's really way offshore."

"Too shallow," he said.

"What?"

"Water's really shallow around here. I mean, like six feet or so."

"Oh."

"That's like four, maybe five hundred yards away, too. There's nothing but mangrove swamp there."

"How high do you think it is?"

"I don't know, maybe fifty feet up?"

"Why isn't it making any noise?"

"You asking me?" he said, snorting. "I can't see anything but the lights, can you?"

"No -- what the -- it's moving!"

They watched as the lights rose into the air, still pointed at something on the ground -- but then the lights moved -- and the lights aim changed -- now they were pointing right at them.

And then the lights began to move again, up and towards them. They rose a little more, and almost like an airplane, the formation arced as it turned -- towards them.

"Get in the car," Jeffries said quietly, and when they were in he slammed the car into low and hammered the accelerator; within seconds the old inline-six had pushed the Beemer past one hundred miles per hour and he looked ahead, then in his rear-view mirror...

"It's behind us," June said, "it's high but diving, and it's getting close..."

The car's interior was flooded with powerful, magenta-hued light, the glare so bright he could hardly see the road ahead, and he squinted, pushed away the rearview mirror -- when suddenly the lights began to fall back -- and then they disappeared completely.

And he did not slow down.

He saw the little roadside park ahead, the one at Turner River Road, and he saw the bend in the road beyond, the one right before the little post office at Ochopee, and he reached out, cut the lights and pushed the Beemer hard as he approached the curve, then he took his foot off the gas and applied the emergency brake -- gently -- and with no brake lights showing he turned into the post office's gravel lot and swung wide, arcing across the lot. He turned hard, then swung in beside the tiny building, then he reached under the seat and pulled out his Sig-226, jumped out of the car. Crouching behind the front quarter panel he leveled the Sig at the road, and waited.

And waited.

He felt June walking up behind him, and was going to turn and tell her to get down when he saw she was still sitting inside; the hair on the back of his neck stood on end -- again.

He turned -- and sighed.

This ship was huge, and it was hovering perhaps twenty feet off the grass, a hundred yards behind the post office. Wing-like, yet not quite, the craft's 'wingtips' drooped a bit, and the whole thing was shimmering, 'just like the hillside at Los Comandos,' he thought, struggling under the weight of so many inrushing memories.

Then he looked down.

Two of them, he realized this time, and another woman -- and he that was odd. It was usually just the one, and he wondered what was different about tonight.

II

She lived in a small, top floor apartment at 18 Rue Gabrielle, and she could just see the Sacre Coeur brooding over the city below, through the trees beyond her bedroom window.

Sleep had not found her this night, like so many nights of late, and she did not know the boy in the bed by her side -- and she hardly remembered last night at all.

She'd been at the Sabot Rouge, a quiet if touristy spot, having dinner with Claire and Jean-Paul, and they'd already put down a few bottles of something by the time the main course came, but cognac with dessert had been the coup de grâce. She remembered someone playing the piano, then talk about war, but that hadn't made any sense at all. After all the terror attacks the last year, such talk seemed ludicrous.

It was still dark out, and the city still slept, but she had papers to grade, and a lecture to prepare; now she looked at the boy by her side and wondered again who he was? What had he said to get her here? And -- what had they done?

She stood and walked to the bathroom and sat for a while, thinking about this latest untoward turn, and she hated herself -- again -- for being such an easy drunk. Claire had asked recently if she had no self respect, but she had brushed aside the question -- as she always had -- saying that she simply enjoyed men.

But was it really so simple? Had it ever been?

She washed her hands and went to the kitchen, started coffee and looked at the papers on her desk. Each an insinuation, an admonishment, she realized, a wagging finger pointing at her broken soul. So many men, so few lasting beyond the night. And she knew she did not want them to last beyond that moment, that brief flash of light in the clouds and the rain. She wanted men to help her there, then to have the good sense to get up and leave.

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