Tom and Jill Herring had been in the middle of dinner when they were interrupted by a knock at the front door. Rolling his eyes in annoyance, Tom went to answer. He was greeted by a tattered Daniel Navarro in bloodstained plainclothes.
“Jesus Christ, Dan,” said Tom, his mouth open in surprise. “What the hell happened to you?”
“Evening, Tom,” the agent calmly replied. “Mind if I come in?”
“I’m not sure if that’s a good idea…” Tom began, pausing when he noticed Navarro discreetly held a pistol in his right hand.
“I insist,” said Navarro. He then gestured for Tom to lead the way.
A few moments later Navarro was seated at their kitchen table. An uncomfortable silence filled the room as he gestured for the couple to continue with their meal. Instead, the two anartists looked Navarro over.
Gone was his sly smile. In its place a contemplative frown dominated his face. The ever present stubble that they were familiar with was now more of a beard. Several partially healed cuts and bruises could be seen across his face and arms.
“So, uh,” Tom began, trying to hide how flustered he was behind a smile, “what brings you to the neighborhood?”
Navarro promptly pulled several folders out of a backpack he had been carrying and placed them on the table. With a delicate touch, he opened the folder at the top of the pile and began to read.
“Anthony Romero, a specialist in making and animating small porcelain figurines, found in his apartment in San Francisco three weeks ago encased in porcelain. Jessica Teal, a glass blower who had a talent for making bottles that could hold anomalously large amounts of liquid, found dead in her home two and a half weeks ago; her brain had been removed and replaced with one of her own glass bulbs. Charles Torres, liked to make films that changed in content every time they were viewed, strangled by several roles of Super 8 film in his workshop a week ago. Viviana and Tori Perez, two sculptors who specialized in a process of malleable steel, we got to them first this time, but there was a fight… they ended up impaled together by a steel rod.”
Navarro slammed the folders down on the table with a large thud.
“Each of these anartists was murdered by the same person, for no other reason than the fact that they were one of my friends, informants, or in most cases, both.”
“That’s tragic, Daniel,” Jill said apprehensively, “but that doesn’t exactly explain why you’re here…”
“Well, Jill,” Navarro replied, “it just so happened that the man who killed them was Jericho.”
“Wait, what…” Tom muttered. His expression turned to one of disgust.
“Why?” Jill asked. Her face became pale with shock.
“Does it matter?” Navarro replied, “The point is people are dying; people with families.”
“You’re lying…” Jill said. “You’re a Suit. Why should we believe you? What on earth would drive someone as kind as Jericho to do all this…”
Navarro collected something from each of the folders and placed them in front of Jill. Each one was a note card.
First. Cheers –JTH
Second. Enjoy – JTH
Third. Love – JTH
Fourth and Fifth. Your friend – JTH
“Because he’s insane,” Navarro answered. He then sighed and began to mumble. “And I may or may not have gotten his brother and fiancé killed on one of my early raids with the Suits…”
The room fell silent. Jill and Tom’s disgust for Jericho now focused on Navarro.
“So what on earth made you think coming here was a good idea?” Tom asked.
In response Navarro reached back into his pack and pulled out several bank statements. Each one belonged to Tom.
“Because I know Jericho’s been your patron for quite a while, Tom,” Navarro said. “And that it’s very likely that you have some means of arranging a meeting with him.”
“You want us to become turncoats?” Jill asked.
“That would be nice,” Navarro replied.
“And if we refuse?”
Navarro let out a frustrated sigh.
“Does it look like I came here dressed for no to be your answer? You’re helping me catch this son of a bitch, or I swear to god I will burn your fucking house down.”
Jill nervously laughed.
Navarro gave a small snap of his fingers, causing a tiny blue flame to appear on the palm of his right hand.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hang on there champ!” Tom said as he got out of his seat. “Let’s not do anything stupid. I’ll shoot Jericho an email right now. I can guarantee you he’ll respond by tomorrow morning.”
“Excellent,” Navarro smiled, extinguishing the flame by clenching his fist. He then got to his feet and swung his pack over his shoulder. “We can discuss the details over coffee tomorrow afternoon, say, at three. Jill knows the coffee shop.”
Navarro began to make his way to the exit, stopping to turn on his way out.
“I promise that if all goes well, you’ll never see me again. I mean it this time.”
Without another word, the agent left, the door softly closing behind him. With a sigh, Jill buried her face in her hands.
Two days later, Daniel Navarro found himself hidden among several crates within Tom Herring’s studio. A collection of half-finished metal and stone sculptures were spread throughout the space, giving the large room a feeling of being crowded. Navarro sighed as he adjusted his position. Any second now, Jericho was due to arrive.
Navarro felt himself tense up upon hearing the sound of the studio doors opening. A tall, sharply dressed man with short blond hair entered. A single black leather glove could be seen on his right hand. The agent recognized him on sight as Jericho T. Hill.
“Evening, Tom,” Jericho said as he began to make his way towards the workbench at the center of the room. His voice carried a tone of exhaustion. Jericho began to look around the room for his absent host. “Tom?”
Show time, Navarro thought to himself. He quietly drew his pistol, and leveled his weapon before firing four shots.
Nearly the same second Navarro pulled the trigger, Jericho turned where he stood and held out his gloved hand. The bullets stopped inches in front of his palm and then fell harmlessly to the floor. Jericho then clenched his fist, causing the pistol to be yanked from Navarro’s hand. The weapon skittered across the floor, stopping at the base of a large metal sculpture.
Navarro lost no time. He immediately pulled a small knife out of his jacket pocket and made a small cut on his left hand. Charging forward from his hiding place, Navarro made a series of gestures, accompanied by unintelligible speech. The room filled with a flash of light, as a pillar of brilliant blue fire emerged from the floor, Jericho barley managing to roll out of the way of the blaze.
Continuing his chant, Navarro made two more cuts into his arm, sending up two more pillars of flames, one after the other. As before, Jericho managed to roll away from the danger, and made a claw with his gloved hand. A great force yanked Navarro’s pocket knife out of his hand and sent it flying into the ceiling.
“You fucking snake!” Jericho shouted, and held up his gloved hand. Ten steel rebar poles moved from a storage rack behind him and hovered in the air, the tips sharpening to fine points.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Navarro mumbled to himself as he began to dash for cover. He looked back long enough to see Jericho point with the index finger of his gloved hand. The rebar poles began to sail through the air. Navarro ducked under the first, watching it sail and stick into the far wall. The second and third collided with the ground immediately behind him. Navarro jumped over the fourth, and then slid behind the base of a large marble statue of a woman. The statue violently shook as the remaining poles slammed into it. Navarro let out a heavy sigh of relief.
The sound of someone running caused Navarro’s attention to switch from his own well-being back to Jericho, who was making a break for the exit. Jumping to his feet Navarro blindly charged towards the door, gaining speed as he prepared to intercept his target. Being the quicker of the two men, Navarro tackled Jericho to the ground. The anartist landed face first on the pavement and slid a foot before coming to a stop.
“Just… die… already!” Navarro shouted as he pulled Jericho’s head back by his short hair and slammed his face into the ground repeatedly, continuing this for several hits before Jericho elbowed Navarro in the gut. Jericho took advantage of Navarro’s pause, and knocked the agent off him.
Jericho got to his feet, and proceeded to deliver three kicks Navarro’s side before finishing with a sharp punt to the agent’s face. He then steadied and then raised his gloved hand. A rebar pole flew into his grip and flattened into a thin blade. Jericho raised the blade for the kill.
“You look ridiculous, Jericho,” Navarro mumbled as he looked at his foe. He then spit up a tooth. “The blood stains really clash with the scorch marks.”
Jericho shook his head as he chuckled and began the downward swing of the strike. At the same time, Navarro made a swift kick at Jericho’s legs, sweeping them out from beneath him. Jericho released the blade as he fell backwards, Navarro catching it as he got to his feet. Without another moment lost, he delivered a single cut. Jericho let out a bloodcurdling scream of pain upon hitting the ground. His gaze focused on the stump at the end of his wrist where his right hand used to be.
“What a fine predicament we find ourselves in, old friend!” Navarro shouted over Jericho’s screams. He stabbed the blade into Jericho’s right leg, and then the left. Navarro tossed the blade aside and quietly retrieved his gun.
“You know,” he continued as he inspected the weapon and began to slowly walk back, “originally I had just planned on killing you, since it would be very hard to incapacitate you with that glove on your hand.” Navarro kicked the severed hand away, and watched as it rolled across the floor. He then pinned Jericho with one foot, and pointed the firearm at Jericho’s head. “However, I just thought of a better plan.”
With his free hand he pulled out a phone and made a call.
“Hey, Merlo,” said Navarro, “You have that address I texted you earlier, yeah? Get a few of your guys down here; I have someone Holman would want to meet. Hurry up; he’s kind of starting to bleed out.”
Navarro hung up the phone and slipped it back into his jacket pocket.
“What the fuck are you doing,” Jericho managed to say between cries of pain.
“Giving you to the Foundation,” Navarro cruelly smiled. “Who knows, if you’re lucky they might offer you the same deal they offered me.”
Navarro’s smile twisted into a sneer.
“We’ll see how fucking noble you are then.”
Agent Navarro yet again sat in the office of Site Director Edgar Holman. His superior rubbed his temple with his right hand as he looked over the hastily created report Navarro had made for Jericho’s apprehension.
“So, let me get this straight,” Holman said with a frustrated sigh, “You knew someone who could have helped you set up an ambush for Hill this entire time, and you only now used this knowledge to your advantage?”
“I didn’t know of the Herring’s connection to him until after the Templar incident,” Navarro shrugged. “Even then, I only wanted to use it as a last resort.”
“Five dead Foundation contacts certainly fits that bill,” Holman snapped.
He then spun around in his chair and starred at the far wall of his office. The room fell into an uncomfortable silence.
“I still remember when they first brought you here in 2004…”
“Hardly,” Holman replied. “Sometimes I wonder if maybe it would have been better to just amnesticize you after that raid on your apartment.”
Navarro gave a small, regretful smile.
“You and me both.”
Without another word, Navarro was dismissed. Agent Merlo was waiting for him outside.
“You know, for a smart man you sure are a dumbass,” she said. “What the hell were you thinking?”
“I can’t say that I really was, to be honest. Besides, it wouldn’t have worked any other way,” Navarro replied. “Jericho won weeks ago.”
“What do you mean?” Merlo frowned.
“They’ve decided to remove me from active field duty. I’m to be stationed at Site-19 and help with any new anart that gets dragged through. Unauthorized was the only way this got done.”
“So this was all revenge then?”
“I’m not going to pretend that it was anything grander.”
“Fuck, Dan,” Merlo sighed. “That makes you no better than Jericho.”
Navarro gave a small amused chuckle.
“I suppose it doesn’t.”
The two remained silent as they approached the elevators.
“I can talk to Holman,” Merlo eventually broke the silence. “We might be able to get you transferred to Site-64…”
Navarro held up his hand to interrupt.
“It's fine,” he said. “I think I could use the time alone. I’m not due at Site-19 for a few weeks. I think maybe it would be best if I disappeared for a while. Pop back up when I’m a little less toxic.”
Merlo gave a small apprehensive nod.
“So this is it then?”
“Looks like it.”
“What are you going to do now?”
Navarro paused before giving a halfhearted shrug. He slowly entered the elevator and turned to face his friend.
“I don’t know. Maybe Disneyland?” he replied, and allowed the doors to close.