Strange things, she had always known, happened in the moonlight.
She had been standing at the grand window in her quiet house with a mug of steaming hot tea and enjoying the tranquility that the end of the day brought. Her babies, her youngest daughters, were tucked away in their rooms. Her husband, who had called to check in around bedtime, was on the opposite coast on a business trip. The house was cleared of clutter and all unnecessary lights had been turned off. In fact, there were no lamps on because the light from the luminous moon was enough to brighten the room. And she basked in this cleansing glow, stress and fatigue draining away as tendrils of steam from the tea dampened her face.
She took her first sip of tea, relishing in it. Ah. Yes. This was heaven.
She closed her eyes and tried to drift to a sense of stillness. She knew she could not go to sleep otherwise.
She drifted on a cloud of serenity, mentally miles away from where she stood.
A loud thud from the other room shocked her from her reverie.
Jolted back to reality, she paused for a moment, listening. She heard grunting, then a low, vicious curse. Without thinking about it, she was scurrying to the other room to see what was going on.
The sliding glass door was open, letting in the damp air from outside. From the doorway to the den, she watched as her oldest daughter, face dripping with sweat, stomped into the room with a prone figure on her shoulders. The question was not how she could have gotten into the house—she had a key—or why she came here—it was her mother’s house, and her mother was always willing to help her out of sticky situations—but…
“Who…?” the mother barely managed. She looked down at the serene face marred by blood and dirt as her eldest daughter carried the young woman’s limp body into the den. She couldn’t help but see the innocence there that twisted her heart. There was someone out there who knew this woman. There was someone out there who loved this woman. There was someone out there who worried about this woman. And instead of being in the confines of the familiar she was here in the unknown.
“I don’t quite know,” the daughter said hurriedly as she slammed the glass door shut and pulled the drapes. “I was at home making some phone calls, following a lead that I’d gotten—”
The mother sighed in frustration. “Dammit…” She exhaled as a throbbing began in the back of her head. “Mija…you’ve been skulking around in dangerous places trying to find some kidnapper and it’s you that’s going to get killed. How many times must I remind you…?”
The daughter placed her hands on her mother’s shoulders. She wanted badly to reassure her that nothing could happen to her, but she was past the time when she felt she was invincible. The disappearance of the man she loved was a clear sign that she was not impervious. So the words she thought would placate the weary woman before her could not come. She shifted the subject purposely.
“It doesn’t matter about me,” the daughter insisted. “Look—this woman would have died if I hadn’t of discovered her. It was raining earlier and I found her on my doorstep unconscious and…” She scratched her temple sheepishly. “I sort of felt like some sort of savior…”
The mother rolled her eyes. “Mija, you are not a superhero. You cannot do things like this without repercussions. Can’t you see you’re asking for your own death when you act so recklessly? There’s no telling who she is!”
“I was not reckless.” The daughter strode out of the room to find the first aid kit. “I think I was rather valiant, Mom.”
Filmy pale blue robe billowing out behind her, the mother rushed after her oldest daughter and stopped her in the doorway. “Okay, I’ll accept you being valiant. But don’t be stupid on top of it. I didn’t teach you to be that way. This girl obviously needs to be in a hospital somewhere.”
The daughter had a feeling, a gut sensation that that course of action would prove to be dangerous for them all. She merely shook her head and walked into the kitchen for what she came for.
“Mija…” her mother began.
“She stays here,” the daughter said firmly. “I will administer any medical care she needs.” She bent over to look under the sink. When she stood again, her mother was leaning up against the counter. She looked as if she had aged ten years within the last instant. The daughter swallowed hard. “Lo siento, Mama. Tengo que hacerlo en esta manera.”
“No,” her mother disagreed. “No tienes que hacer nada. Tú puedes hacer lo que tú quieras.”
Then the daughter did something that scared her mother. She lowered her head as tears welled up in her dark aqua eyes.
“Aquí y ahora, no lo puedo,” the daughter whispered. Her mother stared at her with wide eyes, wondering what her daughter had gotten them into.
Some miles away, Jack Bristow turned at the small noise and waited for the man he was supposed to meet to appear.
The rain had seemed to help them more than it had hurt them, giving them the cover they needed to get their precious cargo to secret refuge. They had not anticipated the cloudburst that had drenched the area but fit it into their intricately crafted plans. It was the only thing they could do; Jack would not have them postponing anything. Not where his daughter was concerned.
A tall figure neared him in the near-darkness. Jack could only see the pale sheen of the skin of his face. If Jack remembered correctly, he was wearing black, and his dark hair was covered in a black cap. If Jack’s senses hadn’t of been as sharp as they were, he would have missed his arrival.
“The drop-off was a success,” the man said simply.
Jack nodded imperceptibly, not showing outwardly how relieved he was. His daughter was of great importance to him, and guaranteeing her safety first before proceeding was paramount. Not only did it mean that one day they could be reunited but it also meant that he could put more thought into the other aspect of his plans: taking down the Covenant.
It had all begun with a mission to find Rambaldi artifacts and keep them out of the hands of people like Arvin Sloane. After SD-6 and the Alliance had been obliterated, Jack had lost his only child at the hands of a group called the Covenant—or at least he thought. It had turned out that his daughter was very much alive, and the Covenant was using her to gain more Rambaldi artifacts.
Instead, he discovered through the man he was standing in front of right that moment what he had thought to be a Rambaldi artifact but what was actually something conceived by a young apprentice of Rambaldi, a young woman named Maura Ayala who went under the alias of Marco Ramirez. Ayala wrote a series of books detailing the mythology of a group called the Tricorn, headed by a Chosen One with great power. There was high probability that Rambaldi’s and Ayala’s Chosen Ones were the same person. That was all Jack knew at the moment. It was all he needed to know. Again, he needed to keep his daughter safe until they found out everything.
“What are the whereabouts on the team sent to find the Volumes?” Jack wanted to know.
“They’re in Northern Spain,” the man responded. “The map led them to a church in Castilla-Leon. Hopefully they will find the books before the Covenant discovers them and switches some of their focus from Rambaldi. We need to find the Volumes first.”
The man sighed and leaned on a wooden crate nearby. “Or they might be under the false impression we were the first time we heard of the Volumes. We’d thought that Rambaldi was behind them. Of course we know differently now and we have Ayala to thank. And no, before you ask,” the man added, “tracking her genealogy has been unsuccessful.”
“It’s not extremely important, but it might prove to help us get some of the answers we need.” There was a pause, while Jack found the right words to proceed. This was a weighty moment in time for him; his daughter was safe in trustworthy hands after nearly a year. In the end, he simply said, “We will meet again in two weeks. Keep me posted if you find out anything.”
The man nodded, saying nothing. He drifted silently back into the darkness from which he later would emerge again.