28 de março de 2015

Chapter 6 - To The Rescue

Start the adventure from the very beginning by clicking here

___ CHAPTER 6 ___
To the rescue

"Marcia was lifted in the air by some unnatural force. "
Art by Guillermo Costa

            Andy and Victor got to the Museum mile with a little bit of difficulty. First they had to find a babysitter who, in short notice, could spend the night with Michelle. Second, the traffic in Manhattan was messier than ever since several streets were closed due to the investigations on the living gargoyle case. However, as soon as they approached the MET building, the three Mentors were already there.
            “I’m worried about them!”, Selina said, skipping ‘Hello’, “The city is a mess, nobody knows what’s going on here! They can get away with anything tonight!”
                “Guys”, Victor said after a pause, “This is Andy Parsons!”
Unlike Andy’s first thought, they didn’t ask anything about the Cross. Selina got closer to him, put her hands on his shoulders and asked, looking into his eyes:
                “Are you here to help us?”
               “Sure”, he felt weird about that but showed Alice’s whip on his hand to her, “My best friend is there too!”
                “Good! Andy, these are Cristovão and Marcia, the other mentors.”
                “Three mentors for three members… Hum… Weird, right?”
                “We used to have more members”, said Cris in Portuguese, “Things happened!”
                “A lot of shit, I guess.”
                “Well”, Selina said, taking them back to English, “I have a plan…”
              “A plan? Your plan? Seriously?”, Andy laughed, “Like the one that sent your friends inside to die? No, thanks! I’ll handle it my way!”
                “Which is…?”
              “Good! Your best friend is inside, surrounded by people who, by the way, are murderers, and you prefer to improvise! Go ahead! We can use you as a distraction to go there and save our friends! The difference is that I’ll bring them out alive! I don’t know about you!”
                Andy took a deep breath, annoyed. She was right.
               “Ok, beautiful, what’s your plan?”

                Alice opened her eyes. She was unconscious; she could never tell for how long though. All she knew was that she couldn’t handle the Magus’s torture session. Her head was all messed up; she could only remember pieces of what had happened. They were in a garden. In a garden in the museum, that she was sure of. There were Hooded Men all around; the Scarlet Magus was also there… And the kid. Everything was scary but the kid was kind of having fun. And there were also two people, a boy and a girl, her age or so… They were taken… Gosh! Why her head was in such a pain?
              She looked around. The cold floor was hard on her face but, as she tried to stand up, she realized she had her hands tied on her back. First of all, a trick Andy taught her: She laid on her back, lifted her legs and moved her arms very slowly. They passed for her lower parts and followed the legs. The most complicated part in the equation was to pass them over the feet, a wrong move could break her arms, but her good flexibility helped her. Once with her arms in front of her, Alice used her teeth to untie the knot.
               She opened the door. One must’ve thought the ropes would be good enough and didn’t care for locking the door. Huge mistake. Outside everything was dark.  She didn’t know where she was but as she went past a coat check, she realized she was on the ground floor. There were exits somewhere closer, but she could never escape and leave the other people with that Order. In her thoughts she could hear Andy telling her to mind her own business as she took the staircase up to the Greek and Roman galleries. There were Hooded Men walking all around. However, when you are a thief who has the night as your ally, you know how to deal with darkness and use it in your favor.
              She could hear voices. The Scarlet Magus and Thomas Jones were up ahead, in the Great Hall, arguing with each other.
             “Not a good idea to be here for that long, Magus! How long do you think it’s going to take until the employees’ families call the police?”
             “We need to get the boy here!”
             “What makes you believe Andy is coming?”
            “If not him, the Angels! It’s about time we end the Carmichael’s fun club! That people don’t even know what they are fighting for! All they are doing is being on our way, slowing us down! And you’re to blame, Jones!”
              “Me? Why me?”
              “Your son is part of that mess! He helped with the information! I never liked your boy anyway!”
              “What about Adam?”
              “What about him?”
              “We should’ve kept him in the Sangreal Vivenda!”
              “I don’t trust that people over there! He’s safer with us! The chosen one can’t be taken from us!”
             Alice screamed when one of the Hooded Men spotted her and grabbed her by the arm and the hair. He pushed Alice against the wall, violently, and got closer to her body.
            “You smell very good… I love the Angels smell; always did! I asked Thomas to play with you later and he said I could!”
             Alice turned, very angry, and punched him on the face. As he tried to stand up, she kicked him on the stomach.
             “I’m not playable, honey!”
            Too late to save anyone but her. The Magus and Thomas Jones were getting closer, along with a lot of Hooded Men. She ran! On her way out, she pushed several pieces of art and statues on the floor to slow them down. Alice almost fell going downstairs, but as fast as she could she reached the emergency door. Only it was closed. She forced it. As the panic took over, the girl started to cry while punching the door. The Hooded Men were coming downstairs.
               “Help!!!”, she cried.
           Like a miracle, the door was opened. She didn’t care much about herself and almost hit the ground in her attempt to escape. However, before she could fall somebody held her and helped her to stand: Andy. And he was not alone; Victor was by his side.
               “I thought I would never see you again!”, she said, sobbing.
               “I’m here! I said I would never leave you!”
              Victor looked at them, envying everything about Andy at that moment. That’s when he realized the emergency door was still open and someone was pointing a gun at them. There was a shot. Victor screamed something that sounded like ‘get down!’ or ‘Watch out!’ and pushed both Andy and Alice to the ground with him.
               Andy looked at the door that was being closed. He couldn’t help but smile.
              “I don’t believe it! They let us go!”, he checked on Alice, “Are you OK?”
              “I am…”, he noticed she had blood on her hands. Victor’s blood, “He’s not…”
              Victor wasn’t moving and there was blood coming out of his head.
             “Is he dead?”, she asked, crying.
           “How will I know?! Wait! I think one of his friends mentioned being a doctor! I’m going to get her!”
             Andy left the two of them on the ground and ran as fast as he could. Alice rested Victor’s head on her lap.
              “Good to see you again…”, he said in a very low voice, “Don’t leave me alone again…”
             “I won’t!”, she smiled in relief, “You’re tough, big boy Now be quiet, please! Help is coming up!”
              Soon enough, Andy brought Selina, Marcia and Cris. They all looked desperate.
              “Victor… Please…”, said Selina getting closer and holding his hand.
             “He’s alive!”, Alice smiled and as the mentor smiled back, tearful, she knew she already liked her, “He talked to me… He’s fine!”

           Marcia was treating Victor in the back of the De Angelis’ delivery van. Luckily, the bullet just glanced off the young man’s forehead.
             “He’s going to be alright. He just needs to rest. The medication is going to make him sleepy!”
            Andy noticed the back of the van was like a disguised ambulance; with everything a doctor would need to take care of somebody in an emergency.
            “You guys are serious shit, I have to say that!”, he said, “Time for us to go and leave you with your own problems!”
             “Excuse me?”, Selina sounded upset.
             “I said we’re leaving!”
             “But you can’t! We need your help! Our friends are still inside!”
             “Well, good luck with that!”
             “We helped you, you idiot!”, Marcia was irritated, “The least you could do is help us in return!”
          “Oh, come on! If you didn’t need the Cross you wouldn’t give a damn about any of us! Your problem is not my problem!”
              “It’s my problem then, Andy!”, said Alice, “They came to help me so I’ll help them!”
            “They were not here for you, Alice! You’re just a consequence! They were here for their people!!!”
             “I don’t care! We’re helping!”, she held Andy’s hand, “Andy, please… You don’t know what those people are capable of! Their friends are just like us!”
            “How do we know that? How do we know they are better than those hooded people?”
            “I don’t know for sure… But I feel I have to help them! And I know you feel the same!”
            Andy looked in her eyes. She was right! He felt the urge to help that people even though he knew nothing about them.
            “So, guys, how can we help you tonight?”
            Selina smiled.
            “Thanks a lot!”
           “Oh, don’t thank me. Thank her!”, he pointed at Alice with his thumb, “She’s the pure heart of the pair. I’m just a jerk! And that doesn’t mean we’re friends! That Cross is still mine and to get it I expect you to pay big bucks!”

Temple of Dendur, Metropolitan Museum of Art

          The Temple of Dendur, in the Egyptian area of the MET, was not William’s favorite part of the museum for its proximity to the Great Hall made it easy to tourists to get there and take their times.

           “Are you awake?”
          Christine had passed out during the beating session performed by the Hooded Men. They were tied back to back to one of the Temple’s columns. The light coming from the glass wall in the Sackler wing, with a view of Central Park, made him unexplainably uncomfortable. Maybe because he couldn’t see much further without his glasses on or maybe because that place could be the last one he would see alive.
             “I’m fine…”, Christine whispered with a tired voice, “I need to have water…”
             “Me too…”
             “William, that kid… He’s the key! He’s the reason why they’re so eager to assemble the artifacts!”
                “I was thinking the same.”
                “Do you think we have any chance? I mean, be honest!”
                “We can’t give up, Christine.”
               About four Hooded Men were patrolling the Temple. She was facing the dark and fairy-tale-like Central Park. Sometimes all she wished for was a normal life, a plain life with no other problems but a job, a dog to walk everyday, bills to pay and a family.
              “I know, but… I know I was supposed to be strong and whatever, but…”, she started to cry, "I’m so tired… It’s not like my body can handle anymore…”
                William reached for her hand and held it, very sweetly.
                “I know how you feel… I’ll help you not to give up if you do the same for me!”
                 “Ok… deal…”

              “Let’s get divided in two pairs”, said Cris to Marcia, Andy and Alice by the MET’s main entrance, “Alice and me will stay on the first floor while Marcia and Andy go to the second! Our only objective is to get William and Christine out of here, nothing else!”
                 Everyone agreed in silence. Andy handed Alice her whip. The two of them were both wearing the Angel’s special gloves and also had Halos on their right ears to communicate with each other. Anything the four of them heard, Selina could also hear from the van. They put on the night vision goggles and as Cris swung the door open, they were ready for anything.
                Except for the silence.
               The Great Hall was dark and silent. As far as they could see there was no one around.
              Then someone laughed. Coming down the staircase was the one they believed to be the leader of the Order, the Scarlet Magus, and that was the first time Cris and Marcia saw him in person.
            “Angels… Welcome!”, he clapped his hands and the lights were turned on, blinding the four of them momentarily, “Alice’s back… And you brought me Andy, what a good girl!”
             “We just want our friends and then we’re out of you sight”, said Cris.
              “I want the Cross. Let me have it and you can take your friends!”
              “I don’t have it here!”, said Andy, “I think it’s time for you to realize you won’t have it!”
             Two Hooded Men came from outside and closed the main door, standing by it. Other ones came from everywhere and stood strategically, showing the group they had nowhere to escape.
            “What’s your price, young man?”, said the Magus, “What about two million dollars?”
            “Good cash, man! I could make a living out of it.”
            “So… We have a deal?”
            “I make no deals with a man who beats up women! Do you want the Cross? Come and get it!”
            As the Magus waved his hand, the Hooded Men prepared to attack.
         “Are you always like that?”, asked Marcia, “Do you always have to speak your mind and get the others in trouble?”
            “What can I say? It’s a gift! You can’t handle it, go home, baby!”
             The Scarlet Magus disappeared as he went upstairs. Andy then screamed in rage and ran towards four Hooded Men by the staircase bottom, but, as he was getting closer to them, he let himself on the marble floor and slid in a way he threw the four men down.
               “He calls it bowling!”, Alice smiled.
               “Are you coming or not?”, Andy asked Marcia.
               She took a deep breath as she followed Andy upstairs. A few Hooded Men went after them. The ones in the Great Hall, though, surrounded Alice and Cris. They didn’t speak to each other, but as they fought the Order members they could appreciate their individual techniques. Cris was a kung-fu fighter; Alice could recognize those moves at any distance. He was good and could handle more than two men at the same time. So did she.
            Cris noticed Alice was a dancer. The way she walked and went through the men couldn’t be taught in any martial arts academy. That was natural. Like the way she used the whip against the Hooded Men and knocked some of them down, mostly with leg blows that seemed to be painful.
            They were a good team. The Hooded Men were easily overthrown with Cris and Alice’s combined forces. However, one of them escaped, running though the Medieval Art gallery. Before they could think about going after him, Alice saw someone she recognized laid on the floor of the museum store.
                 “Mr. Stone!”, as she got closer to him and untied the ropes, he cried in relief.
                 “My girl, thanks a lot! Now we have to get out of here!”
                 “Not without William and Christine!”, said Cris.
                 “I know where they are! Come with me!”
             They walked past the sphinx and got into the Egyptian gallery. Alfred Stone was a nervous wreck, biting his nails while walking as fast as he could.
              “Mr. Stone! You know who is the Scarlet Magus!”, said Alice while they went through ancient Egypt artifacts, “I know you recognized him!”
             “This Order is dangerous! They were quiet for such a long time and now the darkness awakened! They are ready to take over!”
                “Who’s that man?”, asked Cris.
                “I don’t dare to say it!”, he stopped by the Sackler Wing entrance, “Your friends are there!”
                “Aren’t you coming with us?”, said Cris, in exasperation.
               “I can’t. I will call the police and then I will go home to see my granddaughter! Are you one of the Angels?”
                “Yes I am!”
             “I tried to get in touch with you, but I didn’t know what to do after Samuel died! I had the Crown of Thorns, I found it in the Island of Patmos, but now the Order has it! They knew it was with me, I don’t know how! Those people have eyes everywhere! Trust no one, understand me? No one!”
“What do we do now?”
             “Look for Sister Amanda Marceau, in France. She was one of Marion’s friend… She may have precious information for you!”
               “Thanks, Mr. Stone!”
            But the man wasn’t listening anymore. He disappeared through the galleries, leaving Cris and Alice in silence, observing him go.
               “You know what?”, she said, going into the Sackler Wing, “Enough is enough!”
               “Alice, wait…”
              The girl, however, walked with obstinacy. Two of the Hooded Men next to the statues that stood by the pool tried to stop her, but all Alice did was grab both faces and knock them down thanks to the electric discharge on the gloves.
              “I can get used to that!”, she whispered to herself and talk to the other two Hooded Men across the Temple, “Well, we just knocked out a bunch of you guys! If you want your share, come and get it!”
They ran, not even looking back.
               “You got them scared!”
               “Not as much as I am right now!”
           They saw William and Christine, tied back to back, face down, not moving at all. Under the spectral light that came from the park they looked… dead.
               “Oh, no!”
              Cris got to them first and as Alice was cutting the ropes with a small knife, he tried to reanimate his friends. Christine was the first to open her eyes.
             “Oh my God, Cris, you never looked so handsome…”
            He smiled. William also opened his eyes, but was too dizzy to say anything that would make sense. However, as both stood up helped by Alice and Cris, William felt better.
              “There’s a way out of here, in the north side of the building!”, he said.
              “So, let’s get out of here!”, he then talked to Marcia and Selina through the Halo, “We’re leaving the building!”
            “We lost communication Marcia and Andy!”, said Selina, “but they may be on their way out as well!”
              “I’m going after Andy!”
              “Alice, no! I can’t help the two of them out of this place on my own!”, said Cris.
            She thought about it for a few seconds and then helped Christine, as the four of them left the MET. She was hoping Andy was safe, though.

             Andy and Marcia had to deal with a couple of Hooded Men before getting to the Scarlet Magus and Thomas Jones, on the museum rooftop. Andy locked the entrance behind him to make sure no other Order member reached them.
            “Unless you can fly, none of you can go anywhere!”, he said.
         The night was even colder. The Magus and Thomas’ red and purple vestments swung in the freezing wind. Police’s sirens could be heard somewhere not far.
            “We’re running out of time!”, said the Magus to Thomas as they approached the north side deck, facing the park.
         He then turned, angrily, and, as he looked at Marcia, the woman was lifted in the air by some unnatural force. She couldn’t breath. The force was lifting her by the neck.
           Andy then ran and pulled Thomas’ vestments and grabbed the man on a rear naked choke so strong that Thomas’ face was turning as purple as his hood.
            “This is not your fight…”, he managed to say.
            “You should’ve thought about that before inviting me in!”, then he told the Magus, “You kill her, I kill him!”
            Marcia’s legs were shaking as she was running out of air.
            “You’re not a killer, young man!”, the Magus said.
            “Besides losing this man… You lose the Cross! I’m the only one who knows where it is!”
            The Magus then let Marcia fall on the ground. She breathed with difficulty as she tried to get on her feet again.
             “Let him go now!”
              “One minute!”, Andy turned to Marcia, “ Get outta here, girl!”
              “Andy… No… I can’t… We…”
              “Don’t be stupid! There’s no ‘we’! Just me, myself and I!”
            Marcia looked at him. It was like his eyes were telling her to trust him and go. So she did. She tried to contact the other Angels but the supernatural forces somehow turned the Halo off. She needed to find a way to help Andy.
             “I’ll take you to the Cross…”, Andy said, letting Thomas free to breath, “And then we can put an end to this nonsense!”
            “Thomas… You go get the Cross! I have some other business with our dear friend Alfred Stone!”
             “Magus, no!”, Thomas knew the police was closer by the sound of the sirens, “You can’t be seen!”
                 “I won’t. Make sure he won’t fool you again. Is Adam already safe?”
                 “Yes… My left-hand man took care of him!”
                “Good!”, the Magus raised both his hands and a dark mist enclosed Andy and Thomas.
              Andy saw with a glance the Magus returning to the museum before he was taken in a wind spiral, as if he was in the middle of a tornado. Thomas’ hand held him by the arm and suddenly he saw himself on the other side of Central Park. He was dizzy, but he could recognize the Dakota building straight ahead. He was standing in the mosaic made as homage to John Lennon where the word ‘Imagine’ could be read.
              “Dizzy, right?”, Thomas was removing his clothes. He wore a fancy black suit under the Order vestments, “You get used to it. It can’t take us far, though.”
                “Where are we going”, Andy asked, still not feeling well.
                 “You tell me… After all, you know where the Cross is.”
                 “It’s in Downtown Manhattan. We have to get the subway!”
                 “I have a runaway car close by…”, he smiled.

              On 5th Avenue, Renee Sant’angelo observed the MET’s main entrance. There were three other police cars and at least seven police officers with her.
              “What’s going on inside there?”, asked one of the officers.
          “Alfred Stone said something about a group of Satan worshippers… First that gargoyle over Manhattan and now this!”
              “We should call the Ghostbusters!”
               “That’s not funny, Henry!”
               “Someone is going out!”, said another officer.
               Marcia was leaving the museum, exhausted. As Renee approached her, holding a gun, she sat on the step and touched the Halo. It was working again; she could hear Cris’ voice telling her to calm down.
               “Don’t you move!”, said Renee, “Who are you?”
             “I… I work in Coat Check… I was held captive… My colleagues are all inside! What’s going on?”
              “Honey!!!”, Cris tried to get to her but was blocked by the officers., “That’s my wife! I didn’t hear from her since she left for work this morning! I was worried!”
                 Marcia ran and held him, kissing his lips passionately.
                “Oh, honey, I was so afraid… They said they would kill us!!!”, and then said in Cris’ ear, “They have Andy. We have to go…”
              “We’re going in!”, said Renee, asking the other officers to follow her, but pointing at the one who was close to Cris and Marcia, “Keep an eye on them!”
              The officers went in, following Renee. Marcia looked at Cris as he took a capsule out of his pocket. He dropped it on the ground, making smoke appear around them. The officer coughed, trying to reach out for them, but as the smoke disappeared, he saw the couple crossing the empty avenue. However, he couldn’t go after them. Somehow Cris managed to handcuff the policeman to his own car.

                Alfred Stone slinked through that corridors he knew like the palm of his hand. He heard when a police officer announced in the Great Hall NYPD was in the building. He just didn’t leave before because he needed to retrieve his journals for it contained important information he didn’t want the Order to have access to. However, as he was crossing the Greek gallery, he was pushed on the floor by someone’s invisible hand.
                “Going anywhere?”
                 The Scarlet Magus was there, right in front of him.
                 “The police are here…”
                 “I have this feeling you didn’t tell me the whole truth about what you know regarding the holy artifacts.”
                  “I told you exactly what I know! The police are here!!!”
                “And they’re not going to find anything! My men already left the building! Now it’s only me and you!”
                  “Help!!!”, he screamed, embracing his journals, trying to escape from the man in front of him although he couldn’t stand up.
                 “Well… You asked for this!”, said the Magus reaching for his neck. As he choked Alfred Stone with his right hand, he got the journals with the other one, “Let’s see what interesting reading material we have here…”

              Thomas was driving Andy down Broadway. They were both in silence. The young man looked outside trying to see anyone, but Manhattan was surprisingly empty. Maybe the unexplainable gargoyle event scared people away.
               “We can speak, my boy!”, said Thomas, not looking at him.
               “We have nothing to talk about!”
            Andy felt something hurting his right ear and as he touched it he felt the Halo. He had totally forgotten about the gadget but as soon as his finger felt it, it was on again. He heard several voices. The Angels. They were talking about him. He could even hear Alice’s voice so it meant she was safe. Good. As he remembered, Selina told him everything he said was going to be heard by the rest of the group.
                “How long till we get to the Trinity Church?”, he asked, although he knew the answer.
                “Couple of minutes!”, Thomas answered.
           Through the Halo, he could hear the Angels saying they heard his voice. Selina then asked everyone to be silent. They did right away.
                   “Andy…”, she asked softly, “How are you?”
              “I’m feeling good, Mr. Jones.”, he turned to Thomas, “Aren’t you afraid of going to the cemetery with me, only me and you, at this time?”
               “No… Because if you try to be funny this time I shoot you in the face and then I go after everyone you love!”
                   “Good luck finding someone I really love…”, Andy touched the Halo again and it was off.
                   “Alice. She’s someone you love but I’m sure she’s not the only one!”
Trinity Church
                 The car stopped on the corner of Broadway and Wall Street. The Episcopal Church was there, with its neo-gothic style and surrounded by an old cemetery where several historic figures found their final resting place.
                 “So you hid the artifact here?”
                 “In Alexander Hamilton’s grave!”
                  “You’d better not lie this time.”
                  “You can trust me!”
                  “Only a fool makes the same mistake twice!”, said Thomas leaving the car.
                Andy led the way. The gates were closed but Thomas damaged the lock with a shot, opening the way to the graveyard. He smiled at the young man, who was still figuring out what to do.
                  “Get the Cross!”
               As Andy got closer to the pyramidal grave, knowing the Cross was nowhere close to it, he pushed Thomas, who fell, and ran. Thomas shot him but just hit a few tombstones.
                “Andy!”, Thomas screamed, “Don’t you dare go a single step further or your family is going to pay for it!”
                 “What did you say?”, Andy stopped.
                “How stupid do you think I am? You must have family, whether here or in Brazil… I just need to find them!”, he stood on his feet, “Now come here and die as a man!”
                “And you never put your hands on the Cross…”
                “Oh, screw it! Enough of this game of yours! No more treats with you! Time to say goodbye!”
               Thomas was about to pull the trigger when suddenly the gun was taken from his hand. A harpy eagle got it in its claws and got rid of it before landing on the right shoulder of a beautiful young woman, who was entering the cemetery.
                “Who the hell are you?”, asked Thomas, as surprised as he was frustrated.
                “Let’s not talk names, how about that?”
               She had long dark brown hair that went down her left shoulder as a plait. Her skin was olive and contrasted beautifully with her pink lips. She was definitely not American given her exotic traits. She wore a brown medieval-like outfit, with boots, bracelets, small cape and a hood that didn’t cover all her face.
                “You like threatening weak people, don’t you, Mr. Thomas Jones?”
                “This is private business!”
                “I don’t know about that.”, she walked towards him. Andy observed how the girl didn’t seem to be afraid of him at all, “I know about you. I know about your beloved Order. I know about your dirty little secrets… How can any of this be private?”
                 “You’re going to be just one more in the body count!”, and by saying that he got another gun out of his suit.
                The young woman, in a fast movement, disarmed him, getting both Andy and Thomas amazed with her skills.
                “I hate this gun thing…”, she threw it as far as she could.
               The young woman was not there to play. She pushed him to the ground with a kick right on his chest. However, knowing he was going to lose, Thomas grabbed a handful of earth and threw it in her eyes. As she retreated, he stood once again. Andy ran to help the situation but the eagle was faster to defend its owner. It attacked Thomas, with its claws and bites, and it was so fierce that the man had no other alternative but to escape to his car, followed by a very angry bird. Once protected by his car, he left on high speed.
                 Andy got closer to her, as she was cleaning her eyes, and touched her shoulder.
                 “Thank you!”
                 She pushed him, violently, though.
          “Don’t thank me!”, the eagle landed on her shoulder once again and spread its feathers aggressively showing Andy it was there to protect the girl, “I didn’t do it for you!”
             She didn’t even look at him, but walked fast to a motorcycle parked a few steps from the church’s gate. She put on a helmet, started the engine and went the same way Thomas Jones did before. Andy had an idea that for her the night was just starting. As for him, he was ready to call it a day. And he had his ride coming to him.
                 The De Angelis Arc’s delivery van stopped and Alice ran towards him, holding her best friend on a very affectionate embrace.
                “I’m so happy to be with you again, Andy!”
                “So am I, girl! So am I!”
                “What a night, huh!”, Selina got closer, followed by the other Mentors and the Angels.
             “All the family together…”, and then looked at Christine, “Sorry for last night! I hope saving your ass tonight made it even for us!”
                 “It sure did!”
                 “Where’s Thomas Jones?”, asked Marcia.
              “Long story short, I don’t care! I just want to go home and sleep and forget all about you, guys!”
                 “Actually, Andy…”, said Alice and he knew she was up to something, “They have something to say!”
                Andy, still holding Alice, looked at them. Christine and William looked as worn out as he did. Victor, Marcia and Cris looked a little less wrecked, but he could say they had seen better days. And Selina was looking hopeful at them.
                 “So… Shoot it!”
                 “Actually, Andy, we want to invite you to join our team!”
                 “Thanks a lot!”, he answered right away, “but I’m not into this group stuff!”
                 “It can be something good…”, Alice said.
              “No, sweetie… We’re a dynamic duo, not a group! It’s you and me only! Batman and Catwoman, remember?”
                 “You’d have a lot of benefits…”, Selina went on, “You wouldn’t regret being an Angel!”
                 “I don’t need benefits. I am my own benefit!”
                 “That’s the kind of lesson you want to teach your sister?”
               Andy hated when anyone used his sister to persuade him to do anything. Even more when it came from a total stranger. On the other hand, she was right. For months he was thinking about changing his life to provide Michelle a normal childhood.
                 “We should at least try it!”
                 “You made up your mind already, didn’t you, Alice?”
                 “Not if you’re not with me…”
                He looked at them once again. They seemed to be good people, fighting for something noble. Something mysterious, though. And whom was he fooling? He was dying to know more about what happened that night.
                “Well… Why not…”
                “Is that a yes?”, asked Selina.

                “Yep!”, he kissed Alice’s forehead, “It’s a yes!”

NEXT SATURDAY: Chapter 7 - The New Angels

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