to Part 7
My Place Is With You -
"The Knights Templar"
In front of her lay an ornate book, centuries old. The leather was stretched taut over the cover, embossed with the letters KT. Itís well worn surface told of the many battles it had seen and ages it had endured. The book was the journal of Philip of Orleans. Philip Lancaster, precept of the New Orleans Legacy House, had given it to her as a gift claiming Philip of Orleans, one of the few Grand Masters of the Knights Templar, as his descendant. Gia doubted it and teased the older man relentlessly that he was related to Philip the Fair instead. Philip the Fair was the king who had caused the downfall of the Templars. Philip had never taken her teasing very well, which only prompted her to continue her barbing on a regular basis. By now Philip Lancaster was probably convinced, mainly from her teasing, that he was indeed related to the evil king of the Dark Ages.
All she could do was laugh when she thought of the memory. How many times had she taunted, teased and down-right humiliated him over this issue? The number was too high to count, but it was all in good fun. Philip had actually been quite generous to her. He knew of her yearning to know more about this obscure order of knighthood which had been why the gift was so precious to her. It was a book from his familyís library. Knowing he had never been that interested in genealogy, she accepted the offer.
One aspect of the Knights Templar captivated her. The mysteries surrounding the order. She had even conjured a few theories of her own. Just then her cell phone prattled its relentless ringing. She answered it while boarding the red-eye to Salem. The flight attendant gestured in the area her seat was located and Gia found it quickly.
"Gia, glad to have caught you," Philip Lancaster said, slightly annoyed.
"Philip, whatís wrong?" His Scottish accent was stronger now. She knew from experience that he slipped into his normal speech patterns when upset.
"Nothing, love. I wasnít expecting you to leave quite so quickly. I hadnít had a chance to brief you on new developments in the case youíre currently working on."
Gia could tell it wasnít the case that was bothering him. It was because she hadnít consulted with him before leaving the Legacy house early this morning. Glancing out the airplaneís small porthole, she saw nothing but a black dark void. The hint of dawn nipping at the edges of the horizon.
"If youíre getting an early start to see the Templar exhibit, it wonít be in Salem until next week."
"Oh, thatís a shame," she said breathlessly with a sarcastic edge to her voice. "I guess Iíll just have to wait one more week." Philip knew she was looking forward to viewing the medieval artifacts and that one more week wasnít going to kill her. She learned one thing in her four years with the Legacy. She had an abundance of patience. This fact alone told her that he had another reason for calling.
Shane knew the female Legacy memberís past as well as his own. Gina wasnít the only name she had gone by. He held a list of alias two pages long. The only thing he couldnít figure out was how she kept them all straight. Disappearing was her strong suit, and her disappearance four years ago was perfectly in character for her. He should know, she was his sister after all. Growing up she had a flair for art and music but it was history that fascinated her, especially the Crusades involving the Poor Knights of Christ in the Temple of Solomon. An order of warrior monks she preferred calling the Knights Templar. Gina came up with a theory when she was just a young lass. A theory Shane had always found intriguing. Once the Templars were killed off, the Knights of St. John were given all their riches as a reward. Could the Knights Templar and the Knights of St. John be one and the same? And if so, was the real treasure they guarded still in their safe keeping even after all these years? Could the Holy Grail King Arthur sought in legend really exist in this time and in this place? Could the very cup of Christ be within all of their grasps? The mere thought of such an occurrence scared Shane. What would he do if Stefano DiMera ever found out such an all-powerful item was on the verge of being discovered? And by his sister no less? The real question was, did he know this already?
Shane paced the floor of the Salem Legacy House wearing a burgundy robe. The flight had barely landed before the storm front moved in. Lightening streaked across the sky mocked by thunder two seconds later. For awhile the sky had been stone silent. No lightening. No thunder. Just high winds and rain. Now the storm had progressed and grown and didnít look like it would be letting up anytime soon. Rain streaked down the window like a little girlís lost tears. They continually welled up and zigzagged down the clear glass effectively blurring the island view he was normally use to seeing. The humidity was still high and he was glad for the comfort of the air conditioning. He held a cup of steaming coffee in his hands and stared blankly out the kitchen window.
Mike Horton was still too groggy to help them and Shane for one wasnít interested in half-ass answers. Their female researcher hadnít gotten him to say anything remotely interesting even dressed as Carrie Brady. He decided to question Mike himself. Thatís why he brought Mike back to Salem. The blonde doctor was upstairs resting in one of the many rooms in the Legacy mansion. Shane had always liked its castle-like comfort and sought solace here on many occasions. But today his motive wasnít solace. He wanted to know the whereabouts of his sister and Mike Horton was going to tell him or die trying. He knew he would get the information out of him one way or another.
The lights in the west peeked over the horizon as Ethan landed the ISA commuter plane. Runway bulbs spilled pools of murky light onto the long stretch of concrete. As he taxied toward the hanger, a figure running around the metal building caught his eye. He couldnít exactly say what triggered his instinct but that person wasnít a mere airline worker. He disembarked the plane leaving Carrie and Craig strapped in their seats. They were drugged and wouldnít be going anywhere. Ethan drew his gun, checked the chamber for a bullet and headed off in the direction the man had gone.
Ethan radioed ahead before landing to call attention to the security staff, but so far they were not responding. It seemed these men, whoever they were, knew what they were doing. He imagined the security staff were either having their beauty rest early or were dead. Dead was more like it. Ethan found the officers minutes later each with a bullet wound to the head. Their bodies lay crumpled in the security checkpoint between the two airports. Ethan caught up to the shadowy figure as he ran along side the runway and carefully he followed him into Scott Air Force Base.
For a moment the figure had suddenly vanished. Ethan kept his trained eye marked on the manís last location, and his senses were ready to attack if warranted. Mere seconds lapsed before the figure again stealthily moved through the air base. He was now visibly holding a rather small oblong box. It must have been waiting for him, which meant this man had inside help to obtain the object he was carrying. Turning back toward the civilian airport, the figure sprinted ahead leaving Ethan in the dust. He tried to keep up, but the man was much faster than he. By the time he reached the hanger where his plane was waiting, the figure had vanished once again.
The interior of the plane was dark when Ethan boarded. Before he could position himself into the cockpit to taxi into the hanger, a large metal object made impact with his skull. He tried to draw his gun but the wound was too new. His head swirled and he passed out slumped against the empty passenger seats.
Once around the plane by-passed the storm, turbulence was minimal. Gia sighed. Never a fan of flying, she did it out of necessity rather than enjoyment. She, for one, was glad the flight was over. The plane had been diverted to a small airport outside of St. Louis. She had never heard of it but it wasnít surprising since it was a relatively new establishment. A strange art deco piece hung from the ceiling of the terminal like a gigantic chandelier without lights. The fluorescent bulbs buzzed and cast dim pale green light in the hallway. Across the way, Gia spotted a logo she recognized. It was the crest of the Knights Templar. The aircraft containing the exhibit had probably been diverted there as well, which was only natural since the storm was one of the worst the area had seen in over one-hundred years. As she made her way toward the packing crates, Gia noticed two strange men eyeing the boxes. An inborn instinct took over her body and she followed the men into the hanger.
When Ethan regained consciousness, the same shadowy figure darted across his vision. Now, it was joined by two others. Two in close proximity to each other and the other lagging not far behind. He shook the cobwebs out of his head which throbbed double time now that heíd found the man heíd been following. Carefully he rose from the awkward position heíd been lying in. It was obvious what had happened. The drugs had worn off and his two passengers had ambushed him.
Gia noted a man departing a small commuter plane. He held his head in one hand and watched the two men she followed. He eyed her as well but she slunk into the shadows effectively vanishing. The man held his gun like a pro. Knees bent, both hands on the gun and a noticeable concern on his thirty-something face. She made a run toward the men opening the packing crates but the pro caught her movement.
"Hold it right there," he said with a cool tone.
"As far as Iíve been able to ascertain, mister. Weíre on the same side." Gia held the small fire arm steady near her face in a stance that cried professional. The only obstruction between her and the other man, with an even bigger and semi-automatic gun, was a wall of cardboard boxes. She expertly maneuvered through the cardboard maze anticipating his move and countering it. Her cat-like fluid motions left silent footsteps. By the time he reached her previous position, she was secure in another location.
"Smooth, very smooth. Almost like a professional," Ethan said, inwardly cursing himself.
"A professional? Like you I assume?"
"Maybe." His one word response was all the information she needed. She glanced toward the packing crates containing the Knights Templar exhibit. The goons were gone and so was one of the exhibit boxes.
"Good, Iíd hate to think Iím going through this nonsense for an amateur." Before he knew what hit him, Ethan Fairchild, a professional ISA agent, was staring down the barrel of a small handheld pistol. "Checkmate, my friend." Gia smirked. "Now, if weíre through playing this silly game of cat and mouse, why donít we team up and stop those men. They have the armor, and I for one am not going to let them get away with it."
Ethan glanced back toward the oblong box in which the tracking system was encased. It was still intact and lying on one of the packing crates. They had either forgotten it or were more interested in what lie in the stolen boxes. What had Stefanoís men stolen then if not the tracking device? All he had was questions that this woman had the answers to.
"How do I know I can trust you?"
"Itís simple. You canít."
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