Eugene arrived at Bishop’s a mere ten minutes late, not bad for how terrible the crosstown traffic had been. He pulled the Vanquish into the valet parking area with a resigned sigh. Normally he wouldn’t valet his car but in this case he needed to make up as much time as possible. He wrapped a hundred around the valet key asked the first attendant.
“You can drive a manual transmission?”
“Of course sir.” The attendant was looking past him at the Aston Martin, “That is a beautiful piece of machinery.”
Eugene handed him the key, turned to walk into the restaurant and was surprised to feel the cold pressure of a gun barrel against the small of his back. “Come with me if you want to live a little longer. I represent the group who contacted you; this seemed as good a place as any to catch you off your guard.”
He looked around and saw the other three valets were all looking at him. They steered him back to his car, the one with the gun handing off the key and motioning him into the passenger’s seat. The door was closed behind him and he saw the driver had a roll of duct tape. Eugene winced as the tape was unceremoniously wrapped around his upper body and the seat. That was going to play hell with the upholstery.
“I’m not exactly sure what your angle is here, but there’s nobody around who will pay a ransom for me that I know of.” That was the extent of his ability to talk as the tape was also wrapped around his mouth, then even his eyes were obscured.
“We will get what we want Dr. Arlington. You will give it to us. We have a facility built, ready and waiting. Everything you need to duplicate your prototype will be there along with a team of very gifted surgeons. You will make and implant another or your life is forfeit.”
They were insane. How in the world did they think he would be able to perform such a task? There was just no way they had adequate facilities. The car was off and moving, the man driving had no sense of the precision needed to get the most out of the machine. He even ground the gears between second and third.
After what seemed an eternity, his captive finally brought the Vanquish to a halt. The door was opened and Eugene heard a sharp click shortly followed by the sound of a knife blade shredding the tape holding him down and probably the Italian leather of the seat as well. The tape was ripped from his face, taking most of his eyebrows and lashes with it. A riot of light assailed his eyes, he was in an enclosed garage lit by harsh metal halide lamps.
Eugene suddenly remembered the pistol in his jacket pocket. It was something he had purchased in a moment of weakness a few years ago. He had been on a James Bond kick and just HAD to have a Walther PPK. To his surprise the gun wasn’t really all that accurate beyond ten yards but then again it fit in his pocket with barely a bulge. How much could you really ask for in a weapon that small?
He watched his captors and waited for just the right moment. He figured at some point only one of them would have their attention on him but unlike the movies, the bad guys never made any of the classic mistakes. The entire room lurched slightly, startling him.
“Looks like we’re finally under way, bring Dr. Arlington to the lab.” A new yet familiar voice sounded from the other side of the room.
“Dr. Jackson? Is that you? What the fuck is going on here?” Eugene could clearly see his former colleague standing just outside of a doorway.
“You had your chance Eugene. I worked my guts out for you, I wanted to become part of your team. But no, you chose that moron Sims instead. Why? Was it because I’m a woman?” She crossed her arms and glared at him. “No matter, I found a better team to work for and now we have you to work for us. Isn’t fate a funny thing?”
“I chose Sims because he had a better track record under pressure, even though your skillset was superior. Your sex had nothing to do with my decision.” Eugene put his hand in his jacket pocket, feeling the reassuring presence of the Walther.
“I trust you fools have frisked him yes?”
“Uh, no we, uh, he’s a doctor. Doctors don’t carry guns.” The startled goon next to him stammered.
“You idiots, you KNOW he’s working for the Russian mafia AND the Department of Defense and you STILL didn’t bother to check him for weapons?”
Eugene slipped the Walther up his sleeve and put his hands up. “Go ahead boys, give me a once over.”
The nearest guard moved to pat him down and to Eugene’s dismay the gun fell out of his sleeve and fell on the cement floor with a resounding clatter.
“He’s just a doctor he wouldn’t be armed.” Her voice was a mocking singsong, “Silly children, I know better. Now bring him to the lab, it’s time to put our captive rat to work. Don’t forget to get his laptop from the car.” Dr. Jackson turned on her heel and stalked down the hallway.
“Wait, she said under way. Are we on a boat?” Eugene asked the guard who had just confiscated his handgun, wallet, keys, sunglasses and phone.
“I’m not gonna answer shit Doc. Move your ass, time to show us you’re worth all the trouble we’ve gone through to bring you here. If not, oh fucking well, bullets are cheap and I can buy a whole shitton of them with the amount of cash I’ll get selling that goddamn car of yours.” Eugene’s phone began to ring with the theme song from the Million Dollar Man. Shit, Victoria was trying to call him.
“See? I’m not even gone for more than a few hours and already people have noticed I’m missing. This isn’t going to go well for you, why not just release me now? I won’t even press charges.” Eugene said.
“Nice try Arlington, soon we will be out cell phone range and there’s no way anyone will be able to track us. Get moving.”
Eugene moved down the hallway, trying to see anything he could do to escape or even stall what seemed to be inevitable, but it was a polished stainless steel corridor. Even the lights were recessed behind glass and flush with the ceiling.
“This is some boat, where’d you steal it?”
The guard behind him slapped the back of his head with the barrel of his gun, “Watch your tongue. Our lady built this craft and we are very protective of her.”
“Angela Jackson is no lady, and she has no idea about boats so you must be referring to someone else.” Eugene said, hoping for a little more information. They were now approaching a large round door that moved sideways with a pleasant hiss. Through the tiny portal set in the airlock door on the other side he could see an exact replica of his nano-robotics laboratory back at the hospital research and development wing.
“How did you find all this?” Eugene was shocked; they even had the glass holding tank with his patented recirculating system that kept it from bonding until used. “Angela was never even allowed in this room, how in the world did you get access to all of my most vital secrets?” A mechanical voice interrupted him from a speaker on the ceiling.
“Ultrasonic decontamination commencing.” A vibration that seemed to make the entire room tremble began, moving from first a deep bass that twisted his intestines to an insanely high soprano that made his eardrums feel like they were bleeding. When the sound cut off abruptly Eugene felt like a gutted fish.
“Ugh, that was harsh.” Eugene realized his guard had not entered the airlock with him. The inner airlock hissed open.
“Welcome Dr. Eugene Theodore Arlington to your new home. I trust you will find everything in order. You may begin now or wait until morning if you wish. Your body is now free of foreign contaminants and I will not allow you to leave this room until you are complete. There is a bed behind the lab that folds from the wall and food will be delivered as you require it.”
A small panel on the wall opened and his laptop devoid of its case slid out on a steel shelf. It had obviously been subjected to a rigorous cleaning, it gleamed as though brand new.
“I don’t like to work without knowing whom I am working for. I would think with your intelligence gathering capabilities you would know I don’t have a problem working for … unsavory people but I do want to know who you are.”
A portion of the wall flickered and became a large monitor. It showed a gorgeous redhead sitting in a well-appointed den. “You may call me Seraphim. The prosthetic you are making is for my husband, he has been comatose for an entire year. Once you are finished I shall implant him with this miracle device and if the integration is successful I swear to leave you intact at a port of your choosing.”
She stood, the slightly curled mane of hair tumbling down her back like a crimson waterfall, “While I may not be able to pay more than the Nikitin Family I will be paying in cash. Ten million in unmarked currency.”
“Why all these shadow games? Why the kidnapping? I don’t-“
“IF you had answered my voicemails, IF you had responded to my emails, IF you had written me a GODDAMN letter in response to all the begging pleading messages I had sent perhaps this situation could have been avoided!” Her eyes flashed in anger, “Know that the room you are in is completely sealed, if you fail me I shall simply remove all the oxygen. It is as easy as flicking a switch. Now get. To. Work.”
The monitor flickered back to resemble steel and Eugene let out a deep breath he didn’t remember holding. Turning to his laptop he powered it on and began loading the initial coding protocols. The sooner he could get this over with the sooner he could get free. If it integrated properly that is, and there was also the question of the sanity or simply the temper of his captor. Seraphim. The highest court of Angels if the Bible was to be believed. Yeah, right.