A Dubious Curse

by Gerald J. Kubicki

About The Book

In book number eight of the Colton Banyon series, Banyon faces a threat from outside the normal world. An old Nazi has discovered a curse which puts him in the same place as Wolf, Banyon’s spirit partner. The Nazi wants to use his son and the Effort, the modern American Nazi movement, to find a lost book. But it is no ordinary book. The book contains the formula for the energy source Hitler wanted to use for his flying saucers. The formula is so powerful it could be used for time travel and that is exactly what the old Nazi wants to do. He wants to change history.

Banyon must find and protect a woman who is the direct descendent of the leader of the Vril Society, a secret German organization that believed in a utopia. She holds the key to locating the book of the Vril, but she doesn’t know she holds it. Banyon, his partner Loni Chen and his team set out to protect the woman and find the book. They also call in several bodyguards from the law firm where Banyon occasionally works. The problem is the old Nazi can see everything they are doing and sends Effort men to kill them and collect the book.

Banyon must use speed, deception and distance to protect his group while he develops a plan to stop the Nazi. Along the way Loni discovers a woman with blue skin, who she believes is an alien. Banyon also discovers an ancient transmitter which is sending telepathic messages, along with a plot to corner the silver market, and finds out several NSA agents are also after him. They could ruin all his plans.

He must act quickly or all will be lost.

Get Up To Speed

Colton Banyon hunts artifacts and bad guys. He’s a modern day Indiana Jones. He and his unique team recover things that no one else can locate because he has a secret weapon. In this adventure, his secret is threatened. He has to help a young woman find an old book that contains information that could change the world while he protects himself and her. It becomes a game of speed, distraction and distance. Meanwhile the President of the United States needs his help to stop the cornering of the Silver market. In addition a team of NSA agents are hunting him because of his secret.

The book takes place in modern day Las Vegas with trips up Mt. Charleston, gun battles on Lake Mead and even the mandatory blue alien sighting near Area 51.

The Hook

Chapter Seventy-One

Meanwhile, six NSA agents sat around a table in an all-night breakfast joint in southern Ely. They had been up for almost twenty-four hours, and the wear and strain on them was beginning to show. The agents wore black suits, which now looked disheveled and dusty. The three men uncharacteristically had their black ties loosened. Two of the women wore no ties, but had white silk shirts that were open at the collar. The third woman joined the team at the airport and was dressed casually in jeans and a loose-fitting top. The team had been instructed to wait for her to join them. She had flown in from the Denver NSA facility. They all wore sunglasses, even though it was night and looked decidedly out-of-place in the dusty mining-town diner as they finished their food and discussed their current assignment.

They had landed in Las Vegas in the early evening, itching to search for Colton Banyon, but they were quickly diverted to Ely by a call from their director. They were told to take the woman who flew in from Denver with them.

The director answered no questions posed by the team leader and just gave them a terse order over the phone. He told them to rent two large vehicles and drive to the small Nevada town, telling them it was some three hours away. He didn’t give them a reason why they were diverted, nor did he give them any further instructions. They were told to just get to Ely as soon as possible and then call him.

Once they reached Ely, they had been instructed to scope out an abandoned mine and prepare to arrest several people. They would make the arrests after a SWAT team performed an assault on the mine. They were also told to take several women into custody, but not arrest them. They were not told what to do with the women.

The assault had been scheduled for midnight, local time, but the SWAT team never arrived. Another phone call informed them the operation had been postponed for two hours and that they should get something to eat in the meantime.

“What the hell is going on?” the leader of the NSA team whined in frustration as she blew a strand of hair that had escaped from her severe ponytail. She pushed the plate from her breakfast towards the middle of the table to get their attention.

The team leader’s name was Darlene Krenitz, and she was a savvy ten-year veteran for the secretive policing force, the NSA. Even her husband, Andy, didn’t know what she actually did for the government. He thought she was some kind of audit accountant and that the heavy travel was part of her job. She liked it that he didn’t question her and she never pried into his personal life when she wasn’t around, either.

“You know, I’ve been on the force for nearly twelve years and have never even fired my weapon,” Joan Kane, the second in command, commented as she expertly stripped down her gun and began to clean it right on the table. “But I do love guns,” she remarked.

“Put the gun away,” Darlene ordered. “We are in a restaurant, and we don’t want anyone to notice us.”

“But…” Joan protested and pointed. “I see several people in here with guns.”

“I swear, managing you people will be the death of me,” Darlene replied in her south Texas accent.

“But we are unique and good at our jobs,” one of the men boasted.

They were in fact, a very special team who collected people the government wanted captured. Usually, the people were never heard from again. Their job was very hush-hush, and they were never allowed to talk about it, except to each other. They led two lives.

Joan Kane masqueraded as a human resources executive at a large hospital. In truth, all five of the special NSA squad had other jobs in the huge government agency or in private business, but were always ready to collect people at a moment’s notice.

The unique team was charged with hunting and collecting very special people for the secret Denver facility. The people they hunted would suddenly pop up on some scientist’s radar, or in Banyon’s case, the government’s computer website.

“Why are we involved in this takedown? Couldn’t they find any other agents in Las Vegas?” A man from the group whined.

Darlene shook her head in agreement. Something was fishy in her mind. “I mean, first we’re told to drop everything and to find and collect this guy named Colton Banyon and take him to the Denver facility. Then, a new person is added to our team,” Darlene spoke as she glared at the women next to her. “Then, we’re diverted to this godforsaken hamlet to be part of an assault. Then, we’re told to stand down. Don’t they know how important our work for the government is?” Darlene lamented.

“Maybe it is all part of the same operation?” Joan offered. “And they just haven’t told us yet.”

“I don’t care. I just want to get this Banyon guy.”

“Why is he different?” Joan asked, tilting her head.

“Well, I didn’t tell you this, okay, but I was told secretly that he could be the best candidate we have ever found. I’m also told he has friends that may be candidates, too,” Darlene whispered, like there was a conspiracy.

“You mean all of them are candidates for the telepathy program?” Joan asked with renewed interest.

“Yes, and candidates who may have spoken to aliens,” Darlene replied. “Hell, they might even be aliens themselves, according to the data.”

“How do we know that?” Joan, the intellectual, asked.

“Well, this guy Banyon found the transmitter, didn’t he? No one has even found one before,” Darlene said.

“Could have been blind luck,” Joan argued.

“You’re right, but what you don’t know is that the machine in the cave measured his and someone else’s telepathy score while they were in the cave and they were off the charts,” Darlene retorted.

“I didn’t know the machine could do that.” another man at the table piped up.

“There is a lot about these machines we don’t know,” Darlene replied with a know-it-all look. “The scientists don’t tell us everything, but I was told Banyon scored the highest ever. The other person also scored very high.”

“We need to get this guy,” Joan agreed.

“Maybe this has something to do with the alien sighting this morning in Rachel? It’s only about fifty miles away,” Darlene pointed out.

“Yeah, like maybe we are going to find little blue people in the mine,” one of the men scoffed. He stopped joking when he saw the fire in Darlene’s eyes.

“I’ve always known that one day, we would finally prove there are aliens located on Earth,” Joan told everyone. “We have collected many signals from space and even from parts of Earth. It’s just a matter of time.”

“Yeah, and I want us to be the agents who finally capture the first one,” Darlene said ambitiously.

“And that means that no matter what else happens we need to get Colton Banyon, “Joan announced like it was a revelation.

Darlene now turned to the women sitting next to her. She had never met the women before, but she had been told that the woman was from the Denver facility where almost all of the candidates Darlene’s team had captured were currently living under strict guard. What the woman did there was not revealed. Darlene had been told she had the highest clearance level and that they were to treat her as part of the team, for now.

While they had talked on the way up to Ely in the car, Darlene had more questions for the woman named Cindy Creighton. She had noticed the woman didn’t carry a gun and seemed uncomfortable with talk of a takedown and possible gun battle.

“Cindy, can you shed any light on this?” Darlene asked.

“I don’t know anything,” Cindy replied, throwing her hands up.

“But you work at the Denver facility and you were sent here to work with us,” a suspicious Darlene argued. “What are your orders?”

“I was just told to observe and to be ready to translate any Russian spoken. Even if I was told anything else, I couldn’t tell you.”

“Why Russian? Are the Russians involved?” Darlene asked.

“The only thing I was told was that everybody in the mine could speak Russian,” Cindy offered, shrugging her shoulders. Darlene believed that Cindy was stonewalling her but she asked no further questions.

“You know, there may be another answer as to why we were diverted up here in this hellhole,” Joan thought aloud.

“What’s on your mind, Joan?” Darlene knew that Joan was the clearest thinker in her group and she usually offered valuable insights.

“Maybe someone upstairs in our organization has decided Colton Banyon is the real deal,” Joan said as she tilted her head in thought.

“And decided to take all the credit for themselves,” Darlene filled in the thought as she pointed her finger at Joan.

“Yeah, they could be on their way to Las Vegas right now, intending to capture him before we have a chance to,” one of the men said.

“It wouldn’t be the first time that some bureaucrat in the government decided to take credit for work done by other people,” Darlene agreed. She looked at Cindy suspiciously. “Maybe we have been sent a spy to hold us back,” she uttered with malice in her eyes.

“No,” Cindy said, raising her hands in surrender. “It’s not me. I don’t know anything, honestly. I just translate Russian.”

“Well someone has tried to mislead us, we are sure of that,” one of the men said.

“You know, once this takedown is finished, we are going after Colton Banyon,” a determined Darlene announced. “Are you guys in?”

“What if someone tries to recall us?” Joan asked.

“I don’t care if the President tries to recall us. We are going to find him first,” Darlene blustered. “So what about it? Are you guys in?” They all agreed, even Cindy.

Before Darlene could say anything else, her cell phone rang. She stepped away from the table to talk to her controller, but returned within a minute.

“The assault is back on,” she said professionally. “We need to get to the mine, pronto.”

Chapter Seventy-Two

Back at the mine, the security alarm buzzers and flashing lights abruptly stopped working in the office area. Jason barely noticed. He was concentrating so hard on eradicating the computer hacker that he had blacked everything out. He did, however, hear his boss.

“You did it. You’re a genius!” Kevin Ag exclaimed, clapping his small hands. “What did you do to stop him?”

A confused Jason Petrov looked up from his computer screen. “I don’t think I actually stopped him. I think he just gave up hacking. Sometimes hackers get tired of trying to hack into a system.”

“Nonsense,” Kevin Ag dismissed him in a jovial mood. “I hired you because you are the best,” he lied. Kevin hired Jason because he didn’t have to pay him up front and never intended to pay him later, because he would be dead.

“That guy, whoever he is, is a very good hacker,” Jason answered. “I wonder why he stopped?”

“Well, you are good enough to stop him,” Ag spouted. Jason agreed, thinking that Kevin might reward him.

“Has there been any damage to repair?” Kevin asked, quickly returning to his autocratic nature.

“None that I can detect,” responded Jason. “We have another two hours’ worth of data to input to finish. What do you want to do? Should we continue?”

“We need all the accounts uploaded to make this work. Get the work done in an hour,” the leader demanded.

“Then we will test the system?” Jason asked.

“No testing. As soon as you are done, we’re going live,” Kevin Ag screamed. “I don’t want any other hackers to take a shot at us, so you’d better get it right.”

Chapter Seventy-Three

The NSA agents arrived at the mine site within ten minutes after leaving the diner. The site was located west of the small town and between to small mountains in the dry desert. It was dark, desolate, and completely quiet as they rolled through the entrance. The only sound was made by their tires as they crunched the gravel roadway. They rolled through the mine area. The area past the entrance was completely deserted, and all they saw were mountains of dirt piled throughout the mining yard and some old, rusting machinery. There was a small motorhome, not far from the entrance to the mine. There were no lights.

They parked with a view of the mine entrance. Then they sat in their vehicles and waited for the twelve members of the SWAT team to appear or to receive further orders. They spent the time cleaning and checking their guns. No one spoke; their nerves were on edge. The eerie silence was spooking them.

Suddenly, the sound of two helicopters filled the air and two sleek, black apparitions dropped from the dark sky, near where they were parked. They also noticed several police cars drive up and block the entrance to the mining yard.

A black-clad figure broke away from the cluster of SWAT members that piled out of the birds and walked towards the NSA vehicles. Darlene ordered her group out and they stood in a semicircle as the SWAT leader approached.

He stuck out his hand. “Hi guys, my name is Bobby Brown. I’m the leader of the two SWAT teams,” he said, with just the slight hint of a southern accent. “I’ll be commanding the takedown and you guys will be following my orders, okay?”

“Darlene Krenitz. I lead this group.” She shook his hand. “We are NSA agents on special assignment,” Darlene informed the stocky man. His entire body was clothed in Kevlar, and he wore a helmet with several devices attached to the top. Special glasses covered his eyes, and his mouth was partially covered by a microphone. Other than his height, he had no identifying features.

“I’m guessing you know why you are here? So let’s go over your part,” he said politely.

“Actually, we have not been told anything,” Darlene sincerely replied. “Fill us in, would you?”

“Okay, there are people in that mine who are attempting to corner the silver market. They need to be stopped. That’s our job.”

“What is our involvement? We are not typically fighters—we just do arrests,” Darlene told the SWAT leader.

“Oh, we’ll do the takedown, don’t worry about that,” he replied confidently. “Your job is to collect the five women in the cave. They are illegals, and they have been forced to work on the project by a guy named Kevin Ag,” the SWAT leader replied.

“Why do you need NSA agents for this takedown? Couldn’t your men also free the women?” Darlene asked suspiciously.

“You’ll have to ask your controller about that. All I know is that the women are naked, and their skin is blue,” he replied.

“Blue?! Did you say blue?!” Joan exclaimed with excitement. All the members of the NSA team looked at each other in disbelief.

“Yeah, and there is one more thing. Although they are all Asian, they speak Russian. Hope you have a Russian translator with you.”

“That would be me,” Cindy announced, raising her hand. Several things popped into Darlene’s mind. One of them was that Cindy knew more than she was saying.

“Good, we may have to use your talent if any of these guys decides to give up,” Bobby Brown said grimily.

“You seem very confident. How do you know so much information about the mine?” Joan inquired suspiciously.

The SWAT leader noticed the women in the group were all good-looking and since he was a bit of a chauvinist, he attempted to impress them. “Oh, I know a lot more. I have a map of the interior and I know there are ten guards, two men running the show, and five women in the work area,” he quickly replied.

“That’s amazing,” Darlene declared, buttering up to him.

“Not only that, but we are all going to be plugged into the Situation Room at the White House. The President will be able to give us real-time information during the assault.” Bobby Brown passed out earpieces to the NSA team. “You’ll be able to listen in. Just press the earpiece when you want to talk.”

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“Wow, working with the President!” one of the men exclaimed.

“How can he give us real-time information?” Joan questioned, batting her eyes at Brown.

“I don’t know for sure,” Brown admitted. “But he seems to have some guy who can give him information whenever he needs it.

“Does this guy have a name, Bobby?” Darlene flirtatiously asked. In her mind, there could only be one answer for having real-time information. That was mental telepathy, and she needed a name to find the telepathist.

“The President hasn’t shared his name with me,” Brown laughed. “But I do know the guy is someplace in the local area.”

“Do you mean Las Vegas?” Joan asked.

“For all I know, he could be in the mine,” the SWAT leader replied. “Actually, it would make sense.”

“Why?” Joan asked.

“We have been on missions for the President before. His guy has always been right, and we have always been successful.”

“We need to find him,” Darlene emphatically blurted out to her team. The force of her words didn’t go unnoticed.

Feeling as though he had said too much, the now-cautious SWAT leader changed the subject. It occurred to him that they were not in the loop for a reason. He now spoke professionally.

“Let me tell you how this will go down. You need to enter the cave when we call. We will direct you through the maze to the women. You need to secure them and bring them out of the cave. What you do with them after that is your problem. Do you understand?”

“Understood,” Darlene replied. “What do you think we should do with them?”

“Only your boss can tell you that,” he bureaucratically replied.

The team members all nodded their heads. “We’ll be ready. What time is this going down?” Darlene asked, now thinking about the five women who would shortly be in their charge.

“We’ll be ready to go in ten minutes,” he announced. “And now, if you will excuse me, I need to talk to the police captain, over there by the gate.” Brown turned and trotted over to the gate area.

As soon as the SWAT leader left the group, Joan turned to Darlene and talked in a hushed voice. “Do you think it’s Colton Banyon?”

“If it’s not, it would be a huge coincidence, don’t you think?” Darlene mused with a sinister grin.

The SWAT leader headed back to his waiting troops after talking to the police. Joan stepped in front of him and stopped him. She had unbuttoned her silk blouse to reveal the tops of her ample breasts to get his attention.

“What did you say the gentleman’s name was, sweetie?” She had her arm on her hip, posing for the SWAT leader.

“What?” He had been thinking of other things, like a dangerous takedown in a mine shaft.

“You know, the one who passes all the information to the President.” She used her native tongue, which was upper-class Kentucky blueblood. She knew any southern boy could not resist her charm.

“I didn’t,” he replied gruffly, now knowing he had definitely said too much.

“Are you sure you can’t tell us little ol’ girls anything else, sugar?” She laid it on thick.

“I can tell you this,” he answered after a few seconds. “Most of my information didn’t come from any secret source.”

“Whatever do you mean, sweetie?” Joan asked in a sultry voice.

“From what I understand,” the SWAT leader said, deciding to add to the information he had already shared, “there were originally six girl prisoners working on the project, but one escaped two days ago. She wandered the desert, and she was even filmed this morning in the town of Rachel. She was found by the President’s guy who uncovered the plot. She is the one who has supplied all the data on the mine.”

Thinking quickly, Joan asked, “Well, I do believe the sixth woman should also be collected, too, don’t you?”

“Not my call,” he replied, shaking his head.

“But you do know where she is, don’t you?” Joan flipped her hair, which was no longer encumbered by a ponytail holder, to keep his attention.

The SWAT leader was becoming interested in the woman. “Maybe we could have a drink and talk about it after the takedown. I’m a little busy right now.”

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