On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Mission 2: Heaven On Earth
Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Timeline: during R&R
Lomax had been waiting for his target for a couple of days now, long enough that he had blended into the background, something he still did better than damn near anyone in the galaxy. When the man in question finally walked into the bar, Lomax wasted no time, "Greetings, pardner." He said, his best Cowboy 'palaber' ruined by his posh British accent, "Why don't you pull up a chair and have a drink with me." He held up a bottle of the Admiral's favorite Vodka to entice the younger man, ~The old girl still knows her drink.~
Gary eyes the man with suspicion. He had left Jessica at his parents ranch to commune with nature while he slipped into town for a drink and now he was being waylaid by some English guy who fancied himself a cowboy. He was about to say something but stopped when he saw the bottle of vodka. The Admiral's vodka. Grabbing a chair, Gary sat and then in a savage whisper spoke, "Just who the hell are you?"
"Just an old man looking for a drinking companion." He answered, pouring them both two fingers and raising his glass in a whispered toast, "To her Majesty, the Queen."
Gary shook his head, "Not buying that for a minute." He answered even as he took the glass and raised it in an answering salute. "To the Queen." He repeated as he downed the drink, "Now, that we've exchanged pleasantries. Who are you? I'm not in the mood for the cloak and dagger routine."
"Bloody shame. You look the sort that would be good at it." Lomax shrugged, downing his drink, turning over his left arm to show a wolf paw on the underside of the wrist, letting the younger man know he was safe, "Forgiveness, my name is Lomax, Edwin Lomax, though perhaps the name Dire Wolf will ring more bells for you, Commander Taylor."
Gary leaned back in his chair, a slow smile coming to his face, "Well I'll be damned. Dire Wolf. Kerri that is Colonel Tate and Shadow Wolf have talked about you. It is a pleasure to meet you. What brings you out here to the middle of nowhere?"
"Someone's setting a trap for the Queen." Lomax replied, "And they're using White Wolf and her brother as the bait. Shadow thought you might be willing to help me find out who's behind this and stop them before they can. I don't think I have to tell you that we cannot afford failure in the Queen's gambit."
Gary nodded. "Shadow and I talked to the Queen about this very thing. We're of the opinion that it has to be someone close to the Queen. A political rival or someone working for said rival or has connections to them and you don't have to tell me. We can't have the Queen fail. The result's would be disastrous to say the least."
"President Grogan..." Lomax winced as though he'd just been hit in the gut with a bat and poured himself another drink, "God help us."
"Exactly." Gary replied, "However this isn't up to God. It's up to us to make sure the Queen's enemies don't succeed."
"Right." Lomax nodded, "When God is busy, wolves show up. Now, the overlying question has to be this, who ordered Aubrey Tate, who's been utterly quiet for four years without so much as a minor outburst, moved to Rura Penthe and why? Were one the paranoid type, one might conclude that this was done with the intent of him escaping."
"It has to be someone with the highest security clearance, where no one would question the orders." Gary pointed out and shook his head. "Paranoid hell! Anyone with a lick of sense knows that was the whole reason for Aubrey's transfer to have him escape. That's the why for all this along with making Kerri look bad which also makes the Queen look bad."
"And whoever did this knows the Queen." Lomax concluded, "Because they know she won't turn her back on a loyal friend. So whoever it is, they know the pack."
"Agreed." Gary replied, "They also know she'd call the pack. Now they may know of the pack but I don't believe they know the specific members of the pack. If they did they would be targeting us as well." He paused for a moment, "Wait a second what if they do know some of the members like Shadow and myself and our capture was part of the plan to cripple the Queen?"
"Then Aubrey's escape was meant to sideline Kerri." Lomax nodded, yes, it all made sense, "And would also explain why the dogged Marshall Lopez was sent four days in the wrong direction and why the Fugitive Recovery Team was sent to Toriachade. This person doesn't want him caught. As long as he's out there, he discredits White Wolf and by extension the Queen. Nobody has been able to get in to see the survivors of the Jailbird, either."
"Nobody hurts Kerri or the Queen." His voice determined and not brooking any disagreement. "Exactly. The longer Aubrey is out there the worse it is for Kerri and the Queen." He gave Lomax a feral smile. "Is that a fact? They haven't met us yet have they?"
"Not yet, and they shan't like the results when they do." Lomax smiled wickedly, "Kerri's out recruiting some help for unrelated aspects of the operation, I'm not privy to the details of that, but Taam and Atlantis-C are off hunting Mishka. Now, tell me, do you think if need be we could count on the zealous young Marshall Lopez to assist us with information?"
"Good on Kerri and Taam." He frowned at the mention of Lopez's name. "Do you trust her?" He asked pointedly. "I'm not sure I do. I think she's publicity hound and this keeps her face and name in the news."
"While there's no doubt she's fallen in love with the celebrity lifestyle, she's quite dedicated to her family, to the point where she lost her job with Mexico City P.D. and almost went to prison protecting the cousin who married Kerri's niece." Lomax informed, "She considers Kerri one of her own, I don't think she'd betray her. Plus she's fanatically dedicated to catching the so called bad guys. I would also expect she's unhappy about being used as a pawn in this game."
"Alright. Consider me informed. If you think she's okay and can help us that's fine with me. I'm open minded about this and we can agree we want to catch the bad guys and no one hurts Kerri or the Queen." Gary replied evenly.
"There is a man who says he has information." Lomax said, "He wants to meet tonight at a place called Chaps. British pub I presume."
"Tonight? How convenient." Gary answered, "How did this man know you were here ? How do we know this isn't a set up?" He continued.
"He didn't." Lomax replied, "I found him."
"You found him?" Gary repeated, "Just like that?"
"Relatively easily." Lomax shrugged, "For one thing, he's a scientist, not a spy. For another he's not been precisely vigilant in covering his tracks. The man's bad habits tend to keep eyes on him, plus he keeps making contact with his old friends. Bloody fool."
Gary nodded in admiration. " Impressive. Very impressive. Kerri and Shadow were right. You are good."
"He's a gambler, easily exploited." Lomax continued, "Once we bought his marker he was most cooperative."
Gary snorted. "I bet he was. How much did his cooperation cost us?"
"Twenty thousand." Lomax said as though it were nothing, "We bought it from a pair of local thugs he was indebted to, lost his wad, then did the fake heart attack bit and left the casino in an ambulance."
"Money well spent if it gets us viable information on who is behind this and we can take them off the board...permanently." Gary pointed out.
"Indeed." Lomax nodded, "So we'll meet him tonight then, he's offered valuable information in exchange for clearing his debts and sending him elsewhere, seems he's worried he's drawn attention from other avenues."
"So we're also now in the relocation business." Gary surmised, "Super. Lets send him someplace far, far, away."
"His distance to his new locale will depend entirely on Her Majesty's need for him." Lomax said, reminding Gray Wolf of something he already knew.
"Of course. Just venting a personal opinion that's all." Gary replied.
"If it makes you feel better, I share that opinion." Lomax shrugged, "But we're just the pieces on the board, she moves them." Lomax had served the Wolf Queen for over sixty years, he'd come to trust her implicitly.
"True enough." Gary agreed. He hadn't worked/served with the Queen as long as Lomax but like the older man he trusted the Queen without question.
"Then we meet at Chaps tonight." Lomax said, "And I know I don't have to tell you to keep your head on a swivel, so I won't."
"No you don't but thanks anyways. What time do we meet?" Gary asked.
"He wants to meet there at 2100, so we should meet her earlier so we can get there and recon the place." Lomax offered, "I know he's desperate for help, but that doesn't mean he won't still do something bloody stupid."
"Agreed." Gary replied. "Lets get there an hour early so we can scan the place as well look for any potential ambush locations."
"Right, it's settled then." Lomax said, rising and extending his hand to the much younger man, "Here at 1950, there at 2000, and meet the mark at 2100. Hopefully out of there by 2105."
Gary didn't hesitate as he clasped Lomax's hand firmly. "Agreed. Get this over and done with and on to the trail of the real bad guys."
"Then they pay." Lomax nodded, his face totally serious, "But, first, a nap."
Gary chuckled, "Whatever helps." He quipped.
"You'll understand when you're closer to ninety." Lomax laughed.
Gary shared in the laugh, "If I'm lucky." He agreed.