"So, I hear that you've been out of work for a while," said General Sam Lane as he sat down at the table, smoking one of his cigars.
Gabe shrugged as he put away the dishes. "Yeah, I was let go a while ago."
"How about you work for our country again? You were a damn good agent."
"I'm afraid I've been out of the game so long that I wouldn't know what to do anymore. Besides even back then, I was no Jack Bristow."
"We don't need a Jack Bristow," said Sam. "We need a Gabe Sullivan. Besides, I can't imagine that helping pay off tuition and rent aren't burning a hole in your pocket."
Gabe smiled. "I still know of a few safe boxes here and there."
"Suppose I said I had a mission that was right up your alley?"
Gabe put away the last dish. "Coffee?"
Sam shook his head. "I've got my addiction right here," he said, waving his cigar at his brother-in-law.
Gabe turned to the coffee maker and poured himself a cup.
"Chloe takes a bit after you."
"Please don't remind me. She doesn't tell me half the things she's up to with that friend of hers. I have to go and find out myself. It's like she forgot who taught her the tricks of the trade."
Sam frowned. "She doesn't know you used to . . ."
"Well, no. She doesn't know that I used to be a spy. She just sees me as her old man who sometimes bowls and makes a mean casserole now that he no longer burns things." Gabe took a sip of his coffee, strong and bitter. "What fool's errand are you intending on sending me?"
Sam Lane smiled wolfishly. "Suppose I told you that I was sending you on a mission to find a legendary artifact called the Spear of Destiny."
Gabe narrowed his eyes. "The Spear of Destiny . . . Isn't that the spear that a roman soldier used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ?"
Sam nodded. "Yes and it has been reputed to give whoever owns it the power to conquer and rule the world."
"I think it would be just a pile of sawdust and rust by now."
"Supposedly its magical properties would keep it from succumbing to the natural processes of decay."
Gabe took another sip of his coffee. "Something tells me that you've done some research on its location."
"It's been missing for decades. However, I heard that a research team funded by Lex Luthor has been on its trail."
"I have to warn you, however. It's not just Lex who is interested in the Spear but others as well."
"And what exactly does our government want with such an item?"
"National security of course. Come on, just ask a few of your old Luthercorp buddies and see if they know anything about this."
Gabe continued to drink his coffee.
Gabe smiled at him behind his disguise of wire-framed glasses and sandy mustache. The disguise was completed with a tie-dye T-shirt and hair extensions that he had turned into a pony tail. "What can I say, Dominic? I'm a hippie at heart. Besides, the fried chicken here is really quite tasty."
"Well, what is it that you want?"
"I'm curious whether Lex has been artifact hunting."
"He's always artifact hunting," snapped Dominic. "Garbage, complete and utter garbage."
"Is he hunting an ancient weapon like a spear?"
Dominic frowned. "Well, I'm not exactly a confidante of his but yes, he's hunting a lance of some kind."
Gabe sat back. "Has he found it yet?"
Dominic sighed. "I heard buzz about it."
"How do I know that your information is reliable."
"I do know someone who would know more about this."
"His name is Luke Hancock. He's a researcher who's been on a few expeditions for Lex and unlike me, he's been quite a bit more friendly with him if you know what I mean. But it doesn't mean that we two haven't been friends as well . . ."
"Ah, I see."
"What exactly do I get for doing you all these favors?"
Gabe sighed and pushed a thick envelope over to Dominic, who peeked inside and finally looked somewhat satisfied.
"I'll see what I can do," said Dominic who stood up.
"Not staying for a slice of pie?"
"Feh!" said Dominic scornfully as he pushed the door out of his way to make his exit.
"Here's your latte," said the waitress to Gabe.
Being a window washer several stories up, he disliked the way that the platform he was standing on would sway slightly with a strong gust of wind. On top of that, he was wearing a rather uncomfortable disguise. He was wearing the mustache and glasses again and had slicked his hair into a rather nasty looking mullet. Once he had managed to get to the window that was part of Lex's office, he attached the listening device the size of a flattened pea to the plexiglass. Its range was a mile and its battery would last for a month.
He paused then got out his squeegee.
After zipping through various business deals and the occasional personal phone call including one presumably from Clark Kent, one of Chloe's friends by speeding up the playback, he stopped to listen to what sounded a video conference with Luke Hancock.
"Luke, have you found the artifact yet?"
"We believe we have located the artifact, deep in a cavern in southern Germany near Munich."
"I do have a question. I'm most curious what connection this search has to the Kawatche caves."
"You do remember the legend about Numan and Segeeth? Numan, the man who came from the stars and shot fire from his eyes? The one where they balance the forces of light and dark."
"Of course, I DID read Dr. Walden's notes after he died. Even if half of them were insane dribble," said Luke.
"Dr. Walden wasn't insane. The notes just needs to be puzzled out," said Lex. "The ancient gods were based on visitors from another planet. I believe Numan to be one of them. As your own research pointed out, there are very few defenses against them. However, one of them is magic. It maybe that the spear can be used against them."
"And you think it's your duty to protect the world."
"If not me, then who?"
Gabe sighed at that. Leave that kind of stuff to the professionals, he thought.
"So what are your instructions?" said Luke.
"Take the spear to the private airfield and get it here as quickly as possible."
Gabe picked up his satellite phone and punched in a number. "Hello, this is the Invisible Man."
"Big Brother Big here."
"I've got news. The party will be held in Munich. Will I be invited to the dance?"
"I'm sorry but you're not invited to this shindig."
"That's too bad but I guess my old age would put a damper on things," quipped Gabe. "Call you later." He clicked off the phone and smiled. A nice little present in a safe deposit box should be showing up in a few days. Just in time for the rise in tuition, he thought.
"This is Big Brother Big. Anyway, we failed to do the pickup so the package will be coming to your neck of the woods."
Damn, thought Gabe, they didn't intercept the Spear before it got on board the plane. "How long ago did the UPS delivery man leave?"
"Two hours ago."
"So do you want me to track down the shipping?"
"Yes, but I'll send someone else to retrieve it."
"I'll call you back once I have the information." He hung up the phone only to be surprised by hearing footsteps in the apartment. He slowly opened the door and saw that it was just Chloe making coffee. Even though she lived in the dorms for the most part, she had come over for dinner and decided to sleep over. Things weren't so hot on the roommate front. "Oh, for a second," he said, "I thought someone was burglarizing . . ."
"Oh, no, just finishing up a project and needed some fuel."
"Well, not that there's a lot to burglarize," said Gabe. "If there's any coffee leftover, I might like a cup myself."
"How's the consulting job working out?" said Chloe.
"So far so good."
"Could it be permanent?"
"I doubt it but you never know. Pays pretty well, though."
Hours later, Gabe parked his van outside Lex's private airport. Pulling out his high-powered binoculars, he saw the plane land and an unmarked black van drive up to it. He saw Luke Hancock walk out carrying a case almost reverently and get inside of the van. Gabe smiled and turned on his tracking device. The signal was coming in loud and strong. Oh, it had taken a promise of a very thick envelope to get Dominic to do this very special favor for him but it looked like he had come through. He started his van. Hmm, I doubt it's going to his penthouse. Cadmus Labs, perhaps?
"Big Brother Big here, what's going on?"
"Someone other than me intercepted the package."
"Unclear. A man dressed in black suddenly appeared in front of the van, causing the front end of it to crumple and the air bags on both sides of the vehicle to deploy. The front door was torn off and then the man vanished. Once the occupants of the vehicle awoke, it was clear from their behavior that the item had been stolen. I can't help but wonder if . . . "
"You mentioned that there might be other parties after said item. I'm wondering if the party might not be from around here . . ."
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