Some Kind of Wonderful-
Part Twenty One
Author's Note: Here's Ch. 21, things are slow in this chapter. I like to call it the calm before the storm :) I'd like to thank djkauf for the wonderful editing and DC Comics for the wonderful characters.
Chapter Twenty One:
Never in a million years did I think I’d end up back in an interrogation room. But I suppose there was no explaining the situation I was in. After all, I was breaking and entering on private property, there was a total of three unconscious security guards---I never saw the third---and I had no explanation as to why I was there. Apparently while I was fighting, one of the aforementioned guards radioed it all in. He apparently wasn’t as down as his attackers thought. After giving the call, he pulled his weapon on me and told me not to move. I suppose I could have beaten the crap out of him and escaped but good guys don’t do that. Then again, good guys don’t break into places and get arrested for it either.
I groaned, running my hands through my hair. It had been one hell of a night or is it morning. I’m never really sure what to call this time. I looked up at the clock on the wall; I guess it was morning now. I laughed, wondering how much trouble I was in now. After the guard caught me, I tried to explain things. After all, I had one of the real culprits in my clutches. I was still not sure how I wanted to response to that. But the guard thought she was my accomplice which made no sense seeing as she was dressed all in black and I was standing over her, holding her shirt as if I just beat the hell out of her. I didn’t of course. After I pulled off her mask and she turned around, I was too shocked to do anything. I almost let her go but I held firm.
The cops arrived pretty quickly after that. I let them do their thing. But not before I was sure, they secured Persephone. She struggled and fought with them a bit but there were three or four of them. They ended up having to taze her to get her down. I was pretty pissed at that but I was in no mood to cause any more trouble. So I lay down when they told me and let them handcuff me. I tried to explain things to the officers but they kept reading me my rights. I did manage to tell them to call Agent Cameron Chase, so hopefully they were nice enough to do that.
What they weren’t nice enough about was making me wait. I’d been in this room for at least an hour with nothing to do but stare at the large glass window making up the far wall. I knew all about that window, I’d seen enough cop shows to know there was another room on the other side of it. There were probably three or four guys in that room, staring at me right now. I could have given them a show. I thought about snapping the cuffs and throwing the table through the glass but that wouldn’t accomplish a thing. It would also only prove Cameron’s point---I was dangerous and needed to be locked up. In the end, that’s what they wanted to do with me anyway. This morning---we’ll go with morning---I just proved that pretty well.
I heard someone walking down the hall. I perked up at the sound, glad that I’d no longer be sitting here in boredom. When the door opened and the guy stepped in, I was surprised. If I didn’t know any better I would have sworn I was in some old 1930’s crime movie. This guy was tall with chiseled features and dark hair. He wore a gray suit and looked so much like Bogart it was uncanny. He was carrying a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. When he sat at the table across from me, he set both items on either side of him. He made no move to give me the water. I couldn’t help but think that this was all part of his tactic. Clearly showing me the water was some kind of attempt to make me spill things to him because I was so thirsty.
I wasn’t about to play his game.
He finally looked at me and smiled weakly. “Cassandra Sandsmark” he said with a sigh.
I nodded. “That’s what they call me.”
He smirked. “They call me Dan Hunter.”
“Nice to meet you” I said even though I’m not sure if I meant it or not.
“That’s a very pretty name” he said “like the doomed seer of Troy.”
That surprised me. Not too many people would have been able to make a connection like that. It was clear that Detective Hunter---there was no way this guy was a normal cop---was a little smarter than the average person. I suppose that made my situation a lot easier. Smarter people were easier to convince and reason with.
“Not too many people would have known that.”
He smiled. “We all have our secrets.” I nodded, he sighed. “What’s yours?”
“I don’t understand.”
He laughed. “I ran your name through the databases and you come up clean, too clean. So I had a buddy of mine in the FBI do the same thing. Do you know what he found?” I shook my head. “Cassandra Sandsmark didn’t exist until about a week or so ago. He found her easily enough but anything after that was severely classified.”
This time I smirked, it paid to have friends in high places. I didn’t want to act smug but this guy started it. Not that I could really dislike him. He reminded me of Bogart and I love Bogart. I couldn’t help but love this guy for some reason.
I shrugged. “I can’t tell you anything.”
He sighed then rubbed his temples. “Why don’t we start with things you can tell me?” I nodded. “What were you doing in the warehouse at three in the morning?”
There was no way I was going to tell him that a mystical owl or whatever led me there. I hated lying to this guy but he would never believe me. “I was out for a run; I do it all the time. I was running through the marina when I noticed the lights. So I got a little curious and climbed the fence to investigate.”
He nodded but he made no move to scribble anything down on the little pad he carried with him. “And the girl you were standing over?”
“She and her friends came out of nowhere and attacked me.”
“Interesting” he said and nothing more.
I shrugged. “Can I make my one phone call now?”
Hunter didn’t respond. Instead, he ran his fingers through his hair, looking extremely frustrated. “The other girl didn’t say much of anything. She doesn’t even know how she got there. We told her some of the facts and she’s a bit confused. When we mentioned your name, she admitted to knowing you. In fact, she said the two of you were friends and that you were here with a group attending a concert in Saginaw. Do you want to change your story now?”
I bit my lip. I figured Persephone would try to lie to save her own skin. I wonder what the hell was going on there. I opened my mouth to try again when I heard a commotion in the hallway. There was some raised voices and two people coming our way. Before I knew what was happening, Cameron pushed her way into the room followed by another woman. The other woman frowned and looked exhausted. Cameron locked eyes with me, she didn’t look too happy. Me, I tried to look as innocent as possible. I’m not sure if it worked or not.
“Sorry Dan, she pushed past me.”
“That’s ok, Dolores.”
Cameron turned to Hunter. “Special Agent Cameron Chase, Homeland Security” She flashed him her badge quickly. “Miss Sandsmark here is under DHS protection, you have no right to detain her.”
Hunter looked like someone took the wind from his sails. I felt kinda bad for him. He recovered quickly though. “She’s a suspect in a burglary.”
Cameron smirked. “She’s a fool who can’t keep her head out of things. I assure you that Miss Sandsmark is a nobody. She’s been helping us in an ongoing investigation into some antiquity thefts, she’s our key witness.”
Hunter nodded. “Do you usual allow your witnesses to go stumbling into crime scenes?”
Cameron smiled. “She’s a bit difficult.”
Hunter laughed. I could tell he didn’t believe her story but there wasn’t much he could do about it. The two of them traded some words back and forth. It was kinda fun to watch but in the end, Cameron came out on top. Hunter came over and uncuffed me. He even apologized. As I stood up, he slipped his card into my hand and whispered. “If there’s anything you can’t tell me and want too, don’t be afraid to give me a call.”
I smiled. Why is that everyone gives me their business cards?
Cameron did a little more of her glaring and then made sure I left the room first.
“I’m sorry about all this.”
“Save it” she said as she led me down the hall. “We have more work to do.”
I didn’t know what was going on until she led me to another room. She pushed the door open and I saw it was identical to the one I just left. Sitting at a table, with a cup of water, was Persephone. When she saw me she perked up but she looked like hell.
“Cassie, what’s going on?” she asked, tears in her eyes.
Seeing those tears made me well up a bit. I know I was kinda mad that the six of them left me but they were still my friends. I wanted to walk across the room and give her a hug. I almost did too. until Cameron put a restraining hand on my chest. It was clear that she was the only one thinking straight. I almost forgot that Persephone was a part of a group that attacked me, twice. I took that to heart as I took a deep breath and walked over to the table. There were two chairs across from her, I took one and Cameron the other.
Persephone looked from me to her and back again. She looked dazed and confused, like she’d just woken up from a dream.
She looked like hell too. She was fidgeting in her seat, rubbing her hands together repeatedly. I’d seen this behavior before; it was just like earlier when she didn’t have her pill. Clearly, she was more dependent on them than I originally realized. I wondered if the other girls went through something similar when they didn’t get their fixes.
Cameron spoke first, setting a folder on the table. “Why don’t we start with your name?”
Cameron rolled her eyes. “Your real name.”
If she was shocked, Cameron didn’t show it. Me, I was thrown for a loop. Crossan, Persephone was the bitch’s daughter. She saw the look on my face and I think she knew that knew. Her eyes narrowed a bit at that. “You’re Antiope’s daughter?”
“Step daughter” she corrected with some vinegar.
Cameron nodded. “Tell about earlier this morning.”
Persephone groaned. “I don’t remember.” She said, running her hands through her hair. “The last thing I fully remember is leaving Cassie on the sidewalk. The others were angry and bitching about it but I felt kinda bad.” She looked at me. “You were only trying to help.”
I smiled. Cameron butted in. “Stay on task, Miss Crossan.”
Persephone sighed. “We went back to the hotel. We were going to spend the rest of the weekend here but the others wanted to leave. Karna called the front desk and I went to lie down. I was really tired and….that’s all I remember. The next thing I know, I’m in a police car being driven here.”
Cameron nodded. “Tell me about this spa of yours.”
I tuned out the next part. I didn’t need to hear about The Bana again. Persephone spilled her guts though, telling Cameron everything. It was all the stuff I knew. It was clear that Persephone and her stepmother had problems but you could never tell that by the way she talked about the spa. She made it sound like the most wonderful place in the world. It was kinda sickening actually. But I guess I’d already made my own mind up about it. It was pretty clear now what the place was really about. They were brainwashing girls, making them do horrible things. I knew it was a bad place but I never realized how bad until I saw Persephone under that black mask. The others had to beArtemis and the rest. I had to wonder if Persephone was the only one that couldn’t remember or if they were all like that.
Persephone finally finished. Cameron asked another question. “Have you ever been to any other Wayne facilities?”
“Ummm….I don’t think so.”
Cameron nodded. Then she pulled something out of her folder. It was some pictures. She laid them out on the table, facing Persephone. It was several shots, depicting Artemis and her friends wandering halls at some place. It might have been Wayne Enterprise but I couldn’t be sure. I could clearly see Persephone. I looked at the time stamp, it was dated a day before the Exhibit opening. What in the hell was going on?
“Is this not you here?” asked Cameron, tapping the picture.
Persephone’s eyes widened. “I don’t remember.”
“How about this?” asked Cameron, putting a few more pictures on the table.
They were shots of the girls wandering around the Field; one of them had a digital camera, taking pictures of the hall where the Exhibit was housed. I sighed this time. It looked like they were casing the place, looking for something. I looked at Cameron but her face was stone cold.
“I…ummm….I don’t know” said Persephone, there was a bit of fear in her voice.
“What is this?” I asked just as confused as she was.
“These pictures were taken by the security cameras in both Wayne Enterprises main building and the Field. If you pay careful attention to the time stamps you can see they’re on the dates leading up to that big party you went to.”
I nodded. “The one where I was attacked in the basement.”
Cameron nodded. She narrowed her eyes at Persephone. “You claim not to remember either of these events?”
Persephone nodded. “I hate museums; they’re too moldy and dusty for me.”
“I think she might be telling the truth,” I said, looking into Persephone’s face.
There was something about the way she was looking at me, the way she talked. I’m not sure how I could tell but I just knew she wasn’t lying. I was certain that she had no memory of any of the events that conspired earlier this morning. Maybe it had something to do with whatever brainwashing was going on. Maybe it had something to do with those damn pills. Those girls last night were fast, too fast to normal. The first time I encountered them they were even a match for me. Even if it hadn’t been dark, I was pretty certain they’d be able to go toe to toe with me. It was like those pills were making them stronger and faster except for last night. There was something different then. They were still pretty fast but they were clumsy too. I didn’t notice it at the time but they seemed out of synch.
Cameron didn’t reply to me. Instead, she brought forth a pen and a pad of paper. She slid it across the table. “Miss Crossan, I want you to write down the names and addresses of the other girls that came to Bay City with you.” Persephone picked up the pen. “Their real names.”
She nodded and then started writing. Cameron turned to me. “Can we talk out in the hall?”
I nodded then the two of us left the room. We walked a little bit away until we found a secluded place. “Some one has done a real number on your friend back there.” I nodded. This doesn’t look good at all.”
“What about Kate?”
Cameron groaned. “Agent Spencer went off the grid twenty four hours ago.”
I groaned. “I was wondering why I didn’t see her. She was supposed to be chaperoning this little event of ours. You don’t think…”
Cameron reached into her pocket and pulled out a card. She handed it to me. There was one name printed on it: Sebastian Ballesteros.
“He’s an international Arms Dealer and Smuggler. He’s bad news. He’s been linked to a lot of dirty things, he’s on both the FBI’s Most Wanted List and Interpol’s. No one has an exact location on him but there are reports of him in the Mediterranean around the time you and your mother were there.”
It was like a light bulb. “You don’t think he was…?”
She nodded. “Agent Faraday thinks so. We don’t have any pictures of Ballesteros just a brief description of him, it matches the man you met and tangled with in Greece. It also matches the description of a man that arrived in this country three days after you got back.”
She reached into her jacket and took out a grainy photograph. She showed it to me. “That’s him.”
Cameron nodded. “This was taken at JFK. He disappeared after that.”
“You think he might be in Chicago now?”
She nodded. “Clearly there’s something that you’re not telling me.”
I bit my lip. I’d been wondering about that for a while. He’d been looking for the Girdle of Hippolyta. He gave me some bull story about it being a treasure of his people, one that they had been protecting for years. I’d completely forgotten all about that, especially with everything that happened afterwards. But now I was starting to put some things together. If Ballesteros was looking for the Girdle then did that mean Antiope was too. I mean why else would Persephone have his name in her pocket. But it made no sense. Why would an international scumbag be connected to a spa in Chicago?
Cameron was looking at me; I realized she was waiting for my answer. But could I trust her? I looked around, making sure there was no one about. Then I took a deep breath. “I think he might be looking for the Girdle of Hippolyta.”
She scoffed. “I’m a little rusty on my Greek myth but isn’t that the thing Hercules took for one of his Labors?”
I nodded. “He asked me about it in Greece.”
“Why would he think you have it?”
I took another deep breath and showed her my gold bracelets. “Because I think I do.”
Her eyes widened. “I don’t understand.”
I took another deep breath; it was the day of them apparently. Then I gave her a rushed account of events, leaving out the Gods, of course. It didn’t take me all that long. As I was telling her, things were starting to fall into place for me. Hippolyta was Queen of the Amazons and it was hardly coincidence that there was a group in my hometown city claiming to be modern day ones. I thought maybe it was Fate before until I found out they were frauds. But maybe my first assessment was right. Somehow, I was supposed to find those girls but not in the way, I thought. Antiope was up to something, something bad. Well maybe not her personally but definitely the group she worked with. They wanted the Girdle and they hired Ballesteros to get it for them. When he failed in Greece, they tried other means. But what didn’t make sense was why they didn’t come at me directly.
Cameron finally spoke. “You think you’re wearing the Girdle?” I nodded, she smiled real big. Then she laughed. “I’ve heard some crazy things…”
I glared at her. “You don’t believe me?”
She shook her head. “Sorry Cassie, but it’s a little hard to swallow.”
Ok, I’d give her that. “Then why else would they be here?”
“Your mother’s work” said Cameron like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Now I was really confused. “I’m not following.”
“After you left Greece, she had a meeting with Mr. Wayne. He sent a team to that island of yours and they brought back a lot of the artifacts found there. It was a joint operation between his people and ours. Just like us, he was convinced that whoever tried to kill you in Greece was after something on the island. So we set the Exhibit up as a sting but they must have realized it and sent their team in undetected. That’s why they ransacked your mother’s office because whatever they were looking for wasn’t a part of the display.”
“You didn’t tell me this?”
She shook her head. “It was on a need to k now basis.” She shook her head sadly. “When the sting failed, we figured they’d try again. A lot of the antiquities that Mr. Wayne brings in end up in various warehouses around the country…”
She didn’t have to finish because I finished for her. “That’s why they came here.”
She nodded. “We think they were in the warehouse looking for whatever was on that island. Something there is worth a fortune.”
“The Girdle” I said, holding up my wrists. “But it’s not on the island, it’s right here.”
She laughed again, not taking me seriously. “Whatever that something is we know have a leg up on them.”
It dawned on me then. “You know their base of operations?”
She nodded. “I’ll call it in as soon as we finish up here.”
“You’re going to the Bana” She didn’t deny it. “Let me go with you!”
She laughed. “The only place you’re going is back home. You’ve done enough, now it’s time for the real heroes to step up.”
“There’s nothing I can do about it”
I groaned. “C’mon Jay, maybe you can talk to her.”
He was driving me home, we were almost there now. I was still really pissed at Cameron for cutting me out of this. After all if it wasn’t for me then she wouldn’t have gotten this far. Ok, so maybe I’m giving myself too much credit but I was the one who caught Persephone. It just pissed me off that I’d been in this up to my elbows and when it came to the final act, they were leaving me behind. I’m not saying I wanted to be there when they arrested my friends but I did want to be there when they finally shut down Crossan’s crazy operation. I tried to convince Cameron to change her mind as we were leaving the police station but she was sticking too her guns. She didn’t want me anywhere near the place while they did their thing.
I glared at Jay. He sighed. “Don’t give me that look. You know exactly why she doesn’t want you to be a part of this.”
I did but that didn’t mean I liked it. She thought I was too close but as far as I was concerned, that made me the perfect candidate. I had an “in” with them. I could waltz right into the place, distract whoever was there and make it easier for them to get in. I told that plan to Cameron but she said they weren’t going in the front door. She didn’t give me the exact details but I had an imagination enough to know what was going to happen. I’d seen it in the movies and on TV. They were probably going to go in there with guns drawn and lots of tear gas. Ok, so maybe not quite like that. It would probably be really stealthy but it still didn’t mean I couldn’t help. I’d proven myself in a fight. I could handle anything Crossan threw at me.
“You’re going to need me,” I said finally, more to myself than to him.
“That might be true but I’m not in charge,” He laughed. “If I was, you’d be the one leading this charge. But Faraday and Chase call the shots. If they say no go for you then it’s a no go. I’m sure they have their reasons.”
I grumbled because he made a point. I sighed and decided to change the subject. “What’s going to happen to Persephone?”
He sighed. “One of our teams is bringing her back. She’ll probably go into the hospital for a few days and get treatment. Whatever drug they had her on has really messed her up bad. After that, she’ll probably go into some kind of rehab. Those friends of yours are really dangerous.”
“They’re not my friends, at least not when they’re like this”
He nodded. “If what you’re saying is true and the girls were really being brainwashed then I’m sure whoever makes the big decisions will go lenient on them. That nut job Crossan will see some serious time though.”
I sighed. “Why didn’t Kate flag on the drugs?”
He shook his head. “I guess that’s something to ask her when she finally shows up.”
We didn’t say anything more about her. I think we were both thinking the same thing. Either Kate was a zombie like the rest or she saw something that she shouldn’t have. I couldn’t think about what that might be. I liked Kate and it pained me to think of her in any trouble.
Jay glanced over at me for a second, he must have noticed I was worried because he said: “Hey don’t worry about Kate, she can take care of herself. She was a member of SERE and she did some training with a martial arts master in Detroit. Ozawa’s pupils are supposed to be the best in the world; you have nothing to worry about.”
I nodded. It was a little reassurance but it made me feel a lot better.
The rest of our ride was in relative silence. Jay let me pick the stations on the radio. I have to admit that one of the songs from the concert came on and I actually listened to it. Jay made a face but I kinda liked it. Yep, call me a Convert. I was still in pretty bad spirits though when we pulled into my driveway. Grandma was there waiting for us. She invited Jay in for dinner like always. I could tell he wanted to but he had to decline of course, he was going to be a part of the team that went into the spa. Grandma took my bag and brought it into the house; I stayed to try one last time.
“You won’t even know I’m there.”
He laughed then grabbed a napkin from the floor and scribbled a number on it. “This is my cell. I’m not sure you’ll need to call but if you don’t hear from me by tomorrow afternoon, call me. If I don’t answer I want you to phone it, don’t try to be a hero.”
He winked as he handed me the napkin. I smiled. “You’re a good guy, Jay Garrick.”
He laughed then got serious. “Everything is going to be all right, Cassie. As soon as we get this out of the way, you can go back and live a normal life.”
We laughed then said our good byes. He said he’d stop by before he had to leave and I made him promise to at least stay for a few more dinners. We shook on it and he drove off. I went into the house and found Donna waiting. She gave me a hug and then asked me to tell her all about everything. I gave both her and grandma the details. Grandma let out a sigh of relief but there was something else. She looked worried and glanced more than once toward the hall, back toward grandpa’s study. I tried to ask her what was wrong but she told me it was nothing to worry about.
After that, the day was kinda a blur. I called Connor; we talked for about an hour or two. Then we ate dinner but I barely touched my food. My mind was on the team and what they were probably doing at that exact moment. I hoped they didn’t hurt anyone inside. They might have been a bunch of brainwashed crazies but they still were innocents. I went to bed thinking about it and had a hell of time getting to sleep, I kept tossing and turning.
When I finally drifted off, I had the strangest dream about a bunch of pigs running around the lobby of the spa.
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