Are you sure you don’t want Chuck and I to fly with you?”
Raising my head I stared at her. “Ana, your secret?”
“The others haven’t asked but I assume they will. I can’t keep it forever.” Ana leaned back on the bed using her elbows to prop up.
“No. I promised to keep your secret and I will. You said yourself that the number of daywalking Ancients is very few. I would rather keep you as a secret weapon than allow everyone to know.”
Briefly I felt a hand graze my back. “Thanks Agatha. I wasn’t sure. Revealing my secret after so long was one of the hardest things I have ever done but like you Cat is my friend. I just couldn’t sit in the bus and watch her burn. Her healing powers might have saved her but I have seen… Let’s just say I’ve seen things and leave it at that.” Memories of torture and war filled Ana’s brain.
“Cat is like the sister I never had. For that I owe you much. I told her as much. There was nothing in that RV that I can’t replace. Even Fergus’s barn.” I chuckled at the remembrance of him finding out about the barn.
“Did he like the replacement Chuck found for him?”
“He says no, but I saw him stretched out in one of the rooms the other day. He still wants me to ‘pimp the barn’ as he puts it but the new phone I got him is bigger so he’s happy for now. He doesn’t want to help us with this new case.” I could only shake my head.
“Knowing his history I can understand. My people were part of the Unicorn trade once-upon-a-time. Is the Magnus family still involved?”
Turning my head I stared at her. “They are. How long have they been around?”
“If it’s the same family, centuries. I remember buying certain items from a member of that family in the 1700’s. But they predate even that. The Unicorn trade is varied. Step carefully when dealing with them Agatha. They are not dumb.”
“No. That I knew. Grandmother has had dealing with them. At one point my family were investors in the corporation. Let me save that for the plane. If you truly wish to leave the bus, I can’t stop you. But we will need the resources here.” I waved at the walls.
“Take the plane I’ll drive with Chuck. Enjoy the plane. I hear it’s one of the new ones.”
Anastasia was right too. The plane the FBI acquired for us was one of the new ones.
“We get to fly on that?” Cat stared at the gleaming white aircraft with the blue stripes.
I smiled at my team. “Yup. That is Learjet 36. The military calls it a C-21a but this one has been modified just a bit. It is now permanently assigned to us, unless someone else in the FBI has a higher priority. It has a fight range of three-thousand miles and can carry all us and our gear if need be. Director Mills told me it’s been upgraded with all new electronics as well as special features just for us.”
“It looks different from the ones I’ve flown it before.” Bill walked around the aircraft. He ran his fingers down the sides of the wingtip fuel tanks.
“Bill, the engines and avionics are of military grade or at least that is what I was told by Washington. When did you fly on one of these?” I watched as he checked the underside of the plane.
“I told you I have a recreational pilot’s certificate right? I sat co-pilot on one of these a few years ago. It was the R-21 version of this one. The big difference was the wingtip tanks and some undercarriage mods.”
“That’s pretty cool Bill. Could you fly this one? If you had to, I mean.” It might be nice to have a back-up pilot on hand.
“It would depend on the avionics. Do you want me to ask the pilot about changes to the aircraft?” The older Agent had a big smile on his face.
“I bet you were planning to do that anyway. Go ahead. We can always use a back-up pilot but I’ve been assured that the two driving are some of the best in the service.”
A couple of loud horn blasts made me turn. Chuck and Ana were taking the bus off for the long drive to Montana. By road it was going to take them around thirty-five hours. That is if they don’t stop along the way.
“Let’s get loaded. We have a lot to talk about.” The stairs up beckoned.
It really was a nice plane. The FBI originally acquired this particular plane for use of senior Agents to supervise and schmooze with the upper crust of Washington and elsewhere. Budget cuts and other political effects almost lost the use of it to the FBI. But our success with the Strega and Dragon cases got us the use of it. Or at least that is what I was told. Taking Jack’s advice I watch my back carefully when dealing with Washington. Even though I trust Madeline I still watch my back. Even though she is a Director she’s still a politician.
Cat immediately plopped down in one of the leather chairs and smiled at me. “How did we rate this? I really was expecting another cargo plane!”
“Some of that was Jack. According to the Director he loved traveling that way. The bus just won’t fit on what we have available. This is our for the foreseeable future according to her. Success has its benefits. Enjoy it. We have a ton of work to do though.”
Bill stepped inside. “I bet we do if you want to get there this fast.” Glancing behind him he watched a member of the crew secure and lock the door.
“Guys, this is Cliff Murdoch. He’s the steward and all around go getter for anything we might need in the plane. Direct questions toward him as we fly. Our pilots are Captain Tom Tuttle and Jack Chester the co-pilot. They tell me it’s a short hop of about three hours to Fort Benton.” The steward greeted my team and did whatever stewards do.
The interior was arranged like a boardroom. Seats off to one side with a table and chairs on the other. Video screens built into the table as well as the main viewing walls. The rear of the plane was taken up with a small restroom and equipment storage bay.
We were sitting around the table shortly after take off. “Finally. Sorry it took so long to get here but I really needed to see my mother.”
“Agatha, we understand. Family is important.”
“Thanks, Bill. It just makes me feel guilty. While I took time off several more Unicorns were lost. According to Washington about a half dozen Unicorns have vanished mysteriously. At first they thought it was rustlers but the body of one turned up butchered in a nearby farmer’s field. Wild animals found it before authorities so the local CSI units were unable to find anything conclusive.”
“Why are we being called in? This sounds like a local issue.” Anastasia popped up on the table video screen.
“It is. But the Spagyric Corporation owns this particular farm and they are huge supporters of the current administration. This one is politically related. I made promises to Director Mills to solve it regardless of political pressure because of Fergus. This ranch is where he came from. He’s going home whether he likes it or not.”
“Agatha, you mentioned the Spager corporation?” Cat stumbled over the word.
“Spagyric. In Greek it meant collect and extract, Early alchemists used the name to mean all of alchemy. Today it’s used by herbal practitioners. The ancient remedy process was salt, mercury, and sulfur.”
“Mercury can kill you! That was a remedy?” Chuck’s voice came from the video screen on the wall but the picture was blank. He was driving.
“Alchemy is fun that way. Almost nothing is literal when it comes to most alchemical remedies. Salt is an earth element, sulfur is fire, mercury represents the life force that binds them all together. If you know the key the recipes are helpful and can lead you to great power. Take them at face value and die a horrible death. As I said. Fun.” I had to laugh at their expressions.
“The Spagyric Corporation has been in the business of Unicorns and alchemy for centuries. Anastasia remembers dealing with them at least two-hundred years ago. My Grandmother claims they have been around much longer than that. The Magnus family controls it all. If it has to do with alchemy they are involved.” Pressing a button on my tablet a map with marked locations popped up on the screen. “Here in the US they have the Magnus Ranch in Montana, our destination. Several trading houses as well as a distribution center are located in Seattle, Washington. In Canada they run the Alicorn Ranch. It is British Columbia’s premier Unicorn ranch and resort. According to Grams it’s the best in the world even rivaling the facility in Tir Na Nog.”
“Tir Na Nog? Where is that? It sounds Celtic.” Bill looked up from the briefing documents.
“You would be correct. It’s located in a pocket universe only accessible through a portal in Cornwall. The Spayric corporation discovered the open portal in the 1700’s. Purchasing the land from the crown they built a structure over the spot and ran the English part of their company from it. It kept a secret for almost a century until the great reveal in 1914. They then began construction of a replica of Tintagel Castle on the site of the original which coincidentally is where the gate is. Today that part of Cornwall is the world headquarters for the company.”
Chuck’s voice interspersed with traffic noise came over the screen. “Tintagel. Why does that sound familiar?”
“It’s where King Arthur and Merlin did their thing. Don’t you read anything?” Cat snapped at him.
“You mean like the real Arthur? The guy with the round table, that Arthur?”
“Yes, Chuck. That Arthur. Inside the portal is supposed to be where his kingdom was located. Merlin’s cave and the original herd of Unicorns are there too. Grandmother claims that only company executives are allowed inside. My family have been stockholders since the birth of the stock market in Spayric and even they have never been inside it.” I was completely blown away when she filled me in on that place. It drove home to me the existence of the doorways and how much they affect our world.
Cat turned to me. “The Arthurian legends talk about a lot of people and places. Are they in there too?”