Hey everyone! I’m back with the second last episode of the series! Ok, Ok! I know some of you want to throw tomatoes and rotten eggs at me for taking this long and for coming up with a small episode but all I can do for now is apologize.
Anyway, let’s continue with the story for now.
And yeah, keep the mails flowing!
Pebbles and gravel crunched as Duke’ knees hit the ground, his shoulders drooping low as his head bend forward, chin touching chest.
The gutted remains of mangled metal were all that was left of the BMW. The love of his life lay in a heap of charred scraps, and for the first time in his life, Duke felt he would burst out in tears.
“Totally cooked eh?”
The obvious question was voiced from behind. And Duke felt a flash of anger towards the person who asked him that. Christian. It was because of him he was in this mess in the first place. And it was because of him that he had lost the love of his life, the one he had spent dozens of months saving for.
Duke’s body kneeled slack in front of the still smoking debris, the twisted handlebar jutting out at an odd angle from the sooty heap. The sun had climbed higher in the sky and burned mercilessly upon them. Duke’s head still pounded from the impact it had taken, but all he could think of was his bike, and how he could never zoom off into the horizon with it again.
Pebbles crunched as Christian made his way towards his companion and squatted beside him, putting an arm around shoulders that stiffened instantly.
“C’mon BadgerKing, we can’t stay here much longer.”
Duke’s eyes flashed fire as he looked at Christian. He wanted to say something but his throat seemed suddenly parched. Christian returned his angered look with a look of determination and slowly Duke’s body lost the tension as his gaze dropped downwards.
“Let’s get those Bastards BadgerKing.”
Those words reverberated across Duke’s mind as he wondered if he should get involved in the quagmire any further. Would he ever get out of it all alive? And then he remembered Damien.
No, he could not leave Damien in these people’s hands. He would have to do something. He could not cower and run away now.
Christian slowly raised them both to a standing position as Duke let him.
“I’m not eating that!”
“And why not?”
Damien folder his arms across his chest as he spoke exasperatedly. “Because it’s not low fat now is it? And I’m sure the coke’s not diet as well. There’s no way all that sinful stuff is going down my throat.”
The poor bodyguard stared helplessly at his demanding prisoner.
“I’m not going back to get more food,” the six foot four inch bodybuilder muttered.
“Aha! And Miss Zelderman is going to find out you’ve been ill-treating your guest!”
The massive hulk of a man stared at the puny man threatening him. Finally he leaned forward to collect the ‘sinful’ cheeseburger and coke that lay on the table in front of Damien, muttering constantly.
“And sweetie, make sure you get a salad with no cheese or mayonnaise and a diet coke this time.”
The door slammed shut as Damien’s guard left the room in a huff.
In another city, another hostage was apparently not being pampered so much.
Vanessa struggled to free herself from the tight wires that bound her wrists, which had by now cut into her hands at places and blood had clotted all along her veins. She lay in a heap on the floor, her feet bound by the same wires as she strived the remove her restraints but all to no effect. Her captors had been professionals themselves after all. They were not ones whose knots would be so easy to untie.
The wooden door of the tiny dingy room she was held in clicked open as the light blinded Vanessa for a few seconds.
“Why Vanessa! Long time no see!”
Vanessa strained her eyes to make out the silhouette of the suited man standing in the narrow entrance, though she knew very well who it was.
“What’s the meaning of this Stevenson? I know we messed your job but the damn thing was rigged. We were being expected at the docks.”
“Oh, the bloody painting’s hardly a concern anymore, other important merchandise has taken priority, and I believe you were accompanying that merchandise.”
“So you’re gonna use this mission’s failure to entrap Christian? That’s dirty Stevenson, but there’s no way you’re getting your hands on him.”
The suited man walked towards the struggling bundle on the floor and squatted besides her. He gently lifted the bright red hair that covered her eyes and breathed softly into her ears.
“What in the world made you think its Christian I want?”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
Duke stared at the long bus-cum-truck that stood in front of them. One that housed farm animals and was used to transport them over long distances. The same one that Christian was signaling him to get into.
“No, I’m not. This is our ride to Midbane.”
Duke swallowed as he heard the neighing of a horse from inside the slightly ajar door. Was he to share space with horses all the way to Midbane.
“You boys get in or I’m leaving without ya!”
It was the driver of the lorry. A man with a goblin face and a red cap with his first two teeth missing. And he was peering out of the driver’s window and back at them.
“We’re getting on Al!” Christian shouted back as he pushed Duke towards the door, Duke strongly resisting.
“No way I’m getting on that thing!”
“This is all I could manage for now,” Christian hissed into Duke’s ears. “Besides we don’t have the time to be picky now!”
“Why can’t we just sit up in the front with toothless Al?”
As if on cue a boy’s head popped out of the front window, the same one Al was looking curiously out of, and waved at the two men. Duke immediately realized the resemblance of the youth’s resemblance to Al.
Christian flung the back door of the lorry open as Duke stared in disbelief, standing motionless on the small attached steps that one had to climb in order to get into the back of the lorry.
The inside was partitioned into thin rectangular stalls by wooden pickets, each one housing a horse that barely fit into it. The air was saturated with the musky odor of the beasts, restrained in their wooden encasements to a tight standing position. Hay lay strewn on the floor and visible traces of grain foods and dung could be seen on the floor, remnants of the lorry’s previous occupants that had not properly been scraped off. One of the horses snorted as the two men stood at the entrance.
“No way!” Duke stated firmly, planting his feet on the ground as Christian continued half pushing, half dragging him into the lorry.
“What you afraid of? They won’t bite!” Christian was getting exasperated. “And besides,” he added with a grin, “I don’t think they smell any worse than you!”
Duke scowled as he was forced towards the back of the cramped lorry, towards one of the wooden stalls that was unoccupied, half of it piled with haystacks. He counted 5 horses in total, fitted into five of the stalls, and the sixth stall would apparently be their residence for the ride.
He yelped as Christian shoved him towards the haystack and entered the stall himself. Duke got up hastily and then realized there was no place for them both to be standing as their heads clunked against each other. He crouched nursing his still hurting head as he brushed off the hay from his leather jacket and pants.
“So Black Beauty here is our new neighbor?” Duke motioned towards the horse whose behind was a mere inches from his face in the stall next to theirs. The horse turned his head around as if to see who was referring to him. It glanced at Duke and turned his head back straight, ignoring him.
“Yup, she is!” Christian stated as the lorry roared to life and he held onto the rickety wooden pickets for balance. The horses all shifted in discomfort and whined as the truck turned and steered before it finally reached a steady pace and the motion became stable.
Christian collapsed next to the Duke on the hay bundles.
“Aren’t you thieves supposed to be resourceful?” Duke questioned. “I mean, you’re supposed to have all these contacts and all and all we get to use as transport is some borrowed ride on a truck on its way to Doctor Doolittle’s farm?”
“Resourceful? At a time like this?” Christian sneered. “Definitely not, when my boss has cut me off and turned against me and I have to keep my profile as low as possible, this is the only way out.”
Duke felt the edge of bitterness in Christian’s voice and decided he would have to drop misgivings about the arrangements. He and Christian were both in the same situation after all, and the most he could do was to cooperate. But that hardly meant his taunting attitude towards Christian would stop.
“So a sty, is all the glamorous thief can manage eh?”
“Yes, and this is the humble means of transportation the glamorous hacker must be relegated to.”
“I believe the term is ethical hacker.”
It took a moment for Christian to understand the meaning of the term. And he snorted and chuckled as soon as he realized what Duke meant.
“Ethical hacker? My God! That’s a new one, You’re using that to describe yourself?” Christian broke out into fits of laughter. The black stallion next to them neighed as if to join Christian in his ridiculing of Duke.
“And pray tell me Mr. ethical Hacker, what was so damn ethical about the job you did with us? And were there any morals in the FBI server rip job you did? Where were your ethics then?”
“That was an exception, I really needed the money!” Duke mumbled, his face turning a bit red. And then he gathered conviction in his voice. “But I don’t do any overly notorious hacking otherwise. The FBI stint was just a challenge and even there I did not cause any damage to their system.”
Christian shrugged as if he wasn’t listening as Duke continued. “Except a bit of humiliation to the agency that is. But other than that, I mostly do odd jobs here and there which mostly comprise of Technical Security Reviews and Penetration tests.”
“Seriously, you don’t think its all necessary to remind people from time to time that fortunes they spend their entire lives collecting are at a risk of being swiped away right from under their noses? Who does that job then?”
“What in the world are you blabbering about?”
Duke took a deep breath.
“What I’m talking about is that I’m sick and tired of being treated like the worst scum criminal just because my skills lie in hacking. Just because I don’t want to work for some prudish agency that chains me to a desk doesn’t mean that I am no good. I’m good, believe me, but I still get sidelined as notorious scum.”
Christian wanted to interrupt, but he paused when he looked at the serious expression on Duke’s face.
“People hear the term hacker, and immediately brand you as the vilest of all creatures. I mean, we’ve got talents too, and we don’t all use them maliciously in every thing that we do, they’re only as malicious as the next profession.”
“Jesus, you sound like Shylock from Merchant of Venice.”
Duke chose to ignore the comment.
“And you my friend, you yourself are a crook, a person who steals people’s belongings for a living and even you look derogatorily at me. Of course, after all, this two-bit jobless hacker is just worthless scum to be made use of and then thrown away right?”
Christian bit his lower lip as he remembered how he had used some of those terms to describe Duke earlier. He lifted his hand to keep on Duke’s shoulder to reassure him but the latter shrugged it off.
Duke’s face was livid by now. He knew he had lost control and he hated that. He seldom let anyone get under his skin.
“Cool off man.” Christian stated, raising his hand towards Duke once more. This time Duke did not stop him. Christian squeezed his arm.
“I’m sorry I said those things, I shouldn’t have.”
Save the groaning noise of the engine and the cricketing of wooden pickets, no other sound was heard for a few moments. Even Black Beauty looked at the two men, staring at them and trying to assess their feelings.
“I’m sorry, there was no need to say all that.” Duke stated, surprising himself by apologizing. He hardly ever said sorry. It seemed to him he was hardly being himself anymore.
“No, it’s fine, you needed to get that out of your system, and I was asking for it.”
“But I should not have…”
“It’s fine!” Christian stated firmly, silencing Duke by placing his index finger on his lips and then moved his hand around, softly rubbing his cheeks.
Christian’s voice turned soft as he purred, “Now if that’s settled, Let’s finish what we started back there.”
Duke closed his eyes and sighed in response, wondering if it was Christian’s habit to suddenly turn sour arguments into love-making scenarios. Suddenly he lifted his hands to stop Christian’s.
“Should we be doing this now?” There were uncertainties about Damien in the back of Duke’s mind.
“Yes, we should.” Christian stated before he closed in and kissed Duke long and hard. Duke returned the kiss with kindred passion, their tongues dueling as Christian pulled Duke over his own frame, stumbling in the cramped place on the hay as he did. He reached out his hand and pulled down Duke’s jacket zipper, slowly sliding the jacket off his arms, never once breaking the kiss.
Duke groaned as Christian pulled part, only momentarily to slide off his t-shirt and then resumed the kiss, his hands roaming around Duke’s back, feeling the muscles move as they ground themselves into one another.
Duke broke contact this time, kissing and sucking on the right side of Christian’s neck, sure to leave his mark. Then he glided down to the celestial torso, with all of its ripples and sinews. Licking and kissing the contours along the chest and abdomen, biting the nipples a little, enjoying Christian’s squirming and moaning as he worshipped his body.
He unzipped Christian’s jeans, his dick immediately slapping against his abdomen. Duke backed of for a moment, once again lost in the beauty that Christian was. The musky scent of horse hides all around, the beautiful body, the hay and Christian’s proximity in the confined stall were turning him on more than ever before.
“So you’re gonna fuck me or just sit there and stare?”
Duke’s face broke into a broad grin as he struggled to get off his leather pants before he went to work on Christian’s jeans, being interrupted only to remove a condom packet from the back of the jeans’ pocket. Duke yelped in the middle when his twisted ankle got caught in the wrong position and Christian immediately shifted to make him more comfortable.
Minutes later Duke was in bliss. Moving gently in and out of the bigger man who was forced down under his weight, the two of them rocking amidst the hay. The swaggering bus added to their movements, adding another dimension of tremors. Duke looked down at Christian’s face to find a look of pure ecstasy, he swooped down, slowing his pistoning movement as he captured Christian’s mouth with his own, kissing ferociously. He ended the kiss to pick up pace.
Black Beauty watched intently for a minute before it chose to leave the two to their privacy.
The nude forms of two naked men lay in the hay, Duke on top, the moving lorry rocking them gently. A sheen of sweat over their bodies spoke of all the exertions that the two had been engaged in during the past one hour. Duke lay peacefully on top his head resting just below Christian’s shoulder blade. Suddenly he lifted his head to speak to the man under him.
“So how will the poor horses sleep?”
“What?” Christian asked, puzzled at the sudden outburst.
“I mean, there’s hardly any damn place in here. And the poor horses are gonna have to stand during the whole trip to Midbane. Isn’t that kinda mean?”
Christian giggled slowly at that. And then his giggling turned into loud riotous laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“Are you always so cute after you’ve had sex?”
“What do you mean?”
“Horses can go to sleep standing you dolt! Didn’t you know that?”
“Oh My God! I can’t believe you!” Christian stated in between fits of laughter.
Duke’s face turned red in embarrassment “Ok, ok, I get the picture. You can stop laughing now.” Much to his chagrin, Black Beauty joined in with her neighing. Duke had a good mind to pinch the horse’s butt which was not that far above his face but somehow that came across as such a good idea.
“Ha ha. Very funny! You can stop now.”
“It seriously is!” Christian injected in between laughs which were slowly dying down. “And to think you were worried as to how they would sleep!” He wiped the tears that were forming at the corners of his eyes.
Duke hmmphed in disapproval as he tried to ignore the man under him, which was hardly an easy task given their confined space. Christian would cease his laughing to almost a halt and then would crack up again.
Finally the laughing subsided to what Duke thought was a possible ending to the spree.
“So what are we going to do after we reach Midbane?” Duke asked seriously.
Christian swallowed before he answered. “You go ahead to bonnie-chan and I’ll head towards Vanessa.”
“Are we going to be able to see each other again after that?”
Duke hated saying that. He felt like he was begging. But he needed to know this time.
“I don’t know BadgerKing.” Christian stated softly. “I don’t know.”
Christian walked up to the iron gate of the colossal iron gate and pressed a button on the stone wall. An embedded screen lit up that would allow him to interact with the occupants inside before they allowed him to enter.
The massive door to the Stevenson mansion swung open almost as soon as the screen lit up. Obviously his arrival was awaited. He walked slowly onto the gravel path as the electronic door creaked and swung close behind him. Apparently there was no need of any digital interaction before he was allowed entry.
He thought about how he had parted with Duke just a little time ago. And he wondered what was going to happen next.
A million questions raced through his head. He knew however that the events coming up next would probably change his life forever.