The lights of the city hid the stars under cold polluting orange. The cement beneath my feet crackled as my boots pushed me from shadow to shadow like a creeping wolf. The locals were much too savage and afraid of the dark to look deeply within the shadows around them. I ran my hands along the brim of my black natani nez hat and leaned back against the wall of stone across from a massive primitive artifice.
The ugly square edifice across the street was built to hulk over the populous. A monument to remind all those that had been conquered that what was theirs could and had been stolen. As is common in the less advanced civilizations they had created a vault filled with the spoils of their war criminals. A temple to supremacy. I tilted my hat brim down as locals walked past in the night. Once their footsteps ceased to echo I looked back up, the ugliness of stone and brick still stood, still held it’s stolen trophies.
I slipped and crashed down onto the cold cement before I climbed to my feet and ambled across the street. I began my circle of the building. Their were no alleyways to hide me, but all buildings have walls less seen then others, and I had planned my approach carefully.
The blueprints for the building were safely stored in my steel trap of a mind. I had planned in detail on the plane ride over. The map had been old and wrinkled with parts missing, and to be fair I had only seen it for a few minutes, but it had been enough. I had given all the time between inflight movies to this endeavour. One cannot have too much detail in planning.
The building was well lit around the front, but those lights quickly dimmed as I circled back to the employee entrances and past to the broken down parking lot behind. I had found it common that in these people’s yearning for culture they never bothered to do a full job in creating one. Like they wanted to appear cultured, but just could not fully embrace the work it took to fully commit. They made a mask for the front of the building and cold ugly cement for the back, both were ugly, but at least the front tried.
I pushed in near the wall I wanted and looked above me towards the windows I knew would be my way in. The windows reflected the ever present light pollution of the city back at me, giving just enough light to see where I would climb up.
I released my whip from it’s belt holster and snapped it at the overhang. The leather whip cracked in the air and fell back towards my face. I snaked it around for another attempt and noticed the stone and cement cracks before me. I wrapped the whip back into its holster and tested the crack. Just wide enough for my fingers and boot tips, and just strong enough to hold me. I began to climb with my bear like strength.
I clambored heavily onto the darkened window sill looking into the room beyond. I took a few moments to catch my breath after the half story climb. The room within was marble and shiny, filled with pedestals. On each pedestal lay artifacts for display to the savage peoples of this land. The room was sterile and unlived. A place devoid of the daily joys a well lived room would hold, not even a single blanket in sight. I leaned against the side of the window and pointed my championship belt buckle at the glass.
The buckle was a large circle of silver covered in chevron designs and highlighted with turquoise and beadwork. It was specially made using the most modern technology, and could handle most tasks I set it. The buckle worked by converting the kinetic energy of my hand waving before it into both power and commands. I waved my hand into a complex pattern of wind and design until a short laser of blue beamed from one of the stones. The laser struck the glass and cut a smooth circle just above the inner catch.
The laser flipped off as I waved my hand again. The window’s catch gave easy as I reached through the newly cut hole. I inched the window up slowly, ensuring no noise arose, until it was just wide enough for me to slip through. My cowboy boots slipped upon the floor as I crouched down in the interior. It took only a few moments to find my cougar like balance. I had made it in rather easily. I smiled at how simple these temples were to enter. Such a primitive culture, and yet capable of so much damage to the world.
I pulled the window closed behind me. No reason to leave one of the temple guards a clue that they had been infiltrated. The marble floor made barely a squeak as I moved through the room with the stealth of a hunting eagle.
I moved in a low crouch toward the nearest door and peered out into the darkened hallway. I listened for the sounds of temple guards, but heard nothing. Lazy and resting was my guess, that was just the ways of some people.
I waved my hand before my belt buckle and a small screen of light popped up giving me info on the buildings security. I waved my hand a few more times signaling the device to connect to the many traps and surveillance systems. Making myself invisible to the cameras and lasers. I set off, watching the screen for alerts indicating pressure plates and other potential alarms.
The building was massive, and my time limited. I followed my internal mapping into the darkness. It was time to hunt the treasures I had come for.
It took longer then expected to reach the room the treasure I sought would be found in. The endless hallways, nooks, rooms, and display cases were a maze of freshly gleaming marble and whitewashed stone. After several backtracks and false starts, all while hiding from guards, I finally found the door marked “stockage d’artefacts nord-américains.” My buckle made short work of the lock, and the door creaked open.
The room beyond was lit by dim bulbs along the walls, that barely illuminated the area around them. I gave silent thanks for my raccoon like night sight. Shelves of wood and metal crawled along each wall. The middle of the room was likewise filled with row after row of shelves that climbed up into the darkness above me. Each shelf was covered in brown cloth bags piled high. Surely this could not be the room dedicated to the priceless treasure I sought. I moved slowly and quietly through the room reading the many labels fading upon the shelf faces. I stopped cold as I spotted the name I had come to look for.
It was written upon a faded label in dark nearly illegible black, by some hand long since dead. I took a breath and lifted the bag above the label and a deep unsettled feeling filled my heart. Surely this room could not be what I thought it was. I opened the bag slowly and looked within.
My heart stopped as the shame of this moment settled upon me. This room. This place. These people had done a great evil. I stood and looked around again, taking in the entirety of the room. The size of it. The multitude of shelves. All these bags, most not even labeled. Never to be identified again, never to have their homes found.
I looked again within the bag, and the skull of my grandfather Red Hawk stared back at me. I closed the bag tightly and slipped it as carefully as I could into my carrier bag slung along my back. I adjusted it to ensure the safety of my ancestor before I turned to go. I made it to the door, before I turned again and looked at the room, took in the sight of all these ancestors stolen from their families.
The power of that sight drove me to the wall and I slipped down it curling upon myself as tears threatened to over take me. I needed to do something. I needed to rescue them all.
My brain tried to work through the fog of sorrow, but it failed. Overtaken by the pain of the atrocity before me I wept. Only for a moment. I had to think if I was to find a way to empty such a large room. Weeping could come later.
My body shook as much in rage as in sorrow. This was evil, pure and simple.
My weeping was broken by a yell from the doorway. I looked up into the face of a temple guard standing tall in his white shirt and black tie. He yelled in the city’s native language, and I lunged to the left as he drew his gun. My whip ‘cracked like a serpent’s tail’ without thought encircling his gun hand and yanking the gun into the air. He yelled out in pain.
I yelled out an apology as I jumped forward back onto my feet and barreled past him like a charging buffalo. The sound of his gun going off as it struck the ground rang behind me and the yells of other guards followed me through the hallways and rooms as I sprinted forward.
The guards screamed threats in their native language, but I ignored them as I mourned those I left behind. I promised them quietly that I would return for them, I would not leave them here to rot. I would find a way, and I would return.
The window came faster then I had remembered, and I had only a second to wish I had left it open before I crashed head long through it, holding my hat down to protect my face as glass rained around me. I tumbled through the night like a soaring owl.
The hard cement of the industrialized world hammered into my boots as I landed on the walk outside and I took only a second to register my knees were not as young as they once were. I was up and running through the night as the screams of the guards rang out through the night and sirens began to scream into the air. The city’s warriors would not be happy that I had freed one of their trophies.
I ran along the building and back into the street. The noise of my pursuers filled the air as I slipped back into shadow.
It was not long before I slipped besides the deep waters of the river looking for my way home. I had slipped through the shadows of the city to give the sirens the slip, but had been slowly pushed here, trapped between my pursuers and the water’s edge.
A sound of footfalls filled the night, and I slipped silently down an unlightened wooden dock like a fox through the forests, hoping the darkness would hide me as my pursuers passed by. I made it to the end of the dock and began to crouch as the sound of boots on wood echoed behind me. The night should have hid my escape, but it seemed my pursuers had tracked me successfully. Running water lapped against the dock around me. I stood tall and turned putting the river at my back. I was unsurprised by what I found before me.
The dreaded Belgun stood halfway down the dock, his gun pointed at my heart, his smile pointed at my failure. The man wore a tan shirt and dark brown jeans. His leather jacket looked worn yet professional, and matched his dark brown sable fedora if not his pale skin. The Belgun had failed to stop me from rescuing many ancestors, though he had tried. He believed they belonged in the temples he called museums that they had been hidden within. A protector of the colonizers’ loot. He had hunted me across the world, using the local warriors of each city to try and stop me. Always to no avail.
True to form the warriors of this city stood around him. They each wore identical costumes of blue and brass, all with guns, likewise pointed at my heart. I turned sideways and ran my fingers along the brim of my hat and smiled, like the coyote I was.
He began to speak in his sarcastic drawl, “Idaho Jack, I told you I would have you one day, and today is that day. You have nowhere to go, nothing but water around you.”
I slipped my whip from it’s belt loop and let it snake along the ground in my right hand. I kept my left free encase I needed my long knife or to work my buckle. My carrier bag slung low, and I shifted so it stayed along my back. I took my stance before I responded.
“Come now Belgun, do you think I will go so easy.”
“It is time for justice for all your thefts Idaho.”
I laughed, how could I not. He said his villain’s monologue with such a straight face. I heard the whispered words of his warriors behind him.
“How can returning ancestors to their families be theft?”
My words were cut short as he cocked his gun. It is common for the primitive man to rely on such violent tools. He squinted through the darkness, and the sound of wood dipping into water slipped from the air behind me. It was almost time.
“Drop the bag, things will go easier if you return the items.”
The word “items” irritated me, I carried my ancestor at my back, not some bauble to be exchanged for better treatment. Not that I believed he would go easy on me. His kind had one punishment, the savage chains that would keep me from the freedom all humans had a right to. No he had no plan to go easy on me.
I tilted my head and pointed my lips and my whip handle at him.
“You should have shot me in the back.”
I moved my left hand to wave it before my buckle. The light that cascaded out was blinding in the darkness. I closed my eyes just as it flared before me. I leapt like a springing deer backward towards the waiting water. Gunfire filled the night, the wind of bullets fired high and wide slipped past me, and the dock cracked and shattered under the fire of those fired low. I thanked my ancestors for their protection as my boots found air and my arms waved uncontrollably like the wings of a falcon.
The steady thrum of wood pulling through water suddenly grew stronger as the sturgeon nose canoe I landed in picked up speed. My compadre rowed for his life as I stood upon the canoe and watched the Belgun and his warriors become swallowed by the night.
“Get down before you tip us over you idiot.” Came the growl of my trusted sidekick Sunday. I cursed at his need to ruin my amazing standing exit before finding my seat and grabbing an oar to help pull through the water. The trek home would be long and arduous, but I would not be coming home alone.
“And that students is how I returned Red Hawk to his people, and became the only person to lay eyes upon the great vault of Paris. It only pains me that I could not save more of our ancestors.”
Idaho Jack looked out upon the young brown faces around him, so much like his own. Some eyes were large with entertainment, while others were slitted in disbelief. Most had heard the story before. It was a common one Idaho liked to tell. The great breach, the rescue that had helped make him a legend.
The bell rang and whether they believed his tale or not they were up and out the door before he could say class dismissed. Bags were thrown over shoulders, and sneakers squeaked along the floor as they all ran for the outdoors. Idaho sighed at the exuberance of youth. Aww to be so young again.
His office was just a few doors down from the classroom. Some tribal schools are large, others are not, this one was not. Idaho took a minute to smooth the peeling “Dr. William Jack” emblazoned on the glass before opening the door.
To Idaho’s surprise behind his desk sat his mentor and friend, Graham. The man that had basically raised him. A friend so close he was a brother. Graham’s hair was white, and his skin was wrinkled, but his smile was as bright and shining as a teenagers upon his dark brown features. Idaho hesitated as he spotted the dark young woman setting upon the broken down old couch he had shoved under the window. She looked stern and unhappy with the seat, but Idaho had no time to register her before Graham yelled at him.
“Pack your bags Idaho, retirement is over, we found her. We finally found her.”