The World's Most Dangerous Woman: Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! Out! Out! Out!
The dank and odious cell was no deathbed for anyone, let alone a giant among his kind, thought the old man who had for the briefest of moments regained some of his lucidity. He dedicated his entire life to unlocking the universe's greatest mysteries to free the human race, and he was left to die in a cold and primitive room. The prison had been his involuntary home for months now and there was little chance of anyone from his family to come to his rescue. He cursed in his mother tongue as he tried to remember what went so horribly wrong.
His ankle was shackled, yet his captors thought they were being generous by allowing him to scribble on note paper, thinking he was so far gone in his madness that he was now merely jotting down gibberish.
They weren't so far off the mark. He had smuggled in some of his experiments with his suitcase within a suitcase. And every experiment proved to be a failure. Something was off in his equations, no matter how careful he was, yet even when he was free, he could not see the obvious. He was terrified of what would happen should his experiment be successful – he would be handing his triumph over to his enemies, but failure seemed even more frightening. He just wanted to go home and die a peaceful death, yet the gravity of his situation did not pass even his now fragmented mind.
The old man looked up, and suddenly, in front of him were three beautiful smiling women looking straight at him. He did not hear or see them come in and he closed and opened his eyes once more, wondering if they were all an illusion.
They were not.
Their stealth was to be commended, but none looked as if they were fluent in his language.
The woman on the right was a lanky, sinewy but elegantly feral black woman who looked to be in her late forties or early fifties. She was refined, but her calm air hinted of a dangerous and assured hunter; however, her warm demeanour told the man she did not come here to do him harm. He looked closer – he had met her at some point before his confinement, but it was all a haze of confusion to him now.
The woman on the left was of Indian descent; she was perhaps in her early thirties and tipping toward the fuller side. She looked silly and playful, but her devil-may-care eyes were more than a beacon of peace revealing that she was a brave and brilliant strategist who relished a good crisis to tame with her own singular ways.
But it was the third woman who seemed to be the most dangerous of all, and like the woman on the right, seemed vaguely familiar to him. She was a white woman with long red-hair and a black turtleneck sweater and she was perhaps in her mid-thirties to early forties.
“Are you all right?” asked the one of the left.
“He doesn't speak much English,” said the one on the right, her gaze and ease rather than her words confirming to him that he had met her some time before.
“Even if he did, his mind has been poisoned from all of his experiments,” said the one in the middle whose tone and behaviour also confirmed to him that they had a past relationship.
The woman on the right took out a pick and began to free him of the shackles on his ankle.
“Got it,” she said when the lock fell on the floor.
“Excellent,” said the woman in the middle. “You two take him out of here while I take whatever notes he has lying around.”
“Do you think they made him do all that?” asked the woman on the left.
“No, they think he's mad, but all the same, I do not want anything left behind. Even madness has its logic that can be deciphered with the right mindset and decoder.”
The man began to protest and turned to the flame-haired woman, pointing to a tiled spot on the floor.
“I guess he has something there he wants to take,” she replied, and moving a wooden plank from the ground, found a heavy metal suitcase, pulling it out and taking it along with all of his jottings before leaving the cell to join her two companions and left as silently as they had arrived.
As the four of them walked through the darkened corridor, the freed man began to limp clumsily, but did his best to keep up with the rest. Reality and the dream world confused him these days, yet he used his every psychic reserve to keep them separate. It was more than his age that made him this way; it was his work that pushed him over. He would have normally felt agitated among strangers who gave orders, yet the flame-haired woman's gentle ways made him feel safe from the demons outside and those tormenting him from within.
When they reached the end of the hall, they were met by three men whose happy expressions told the freed hostage that they, too, were not foes to fear. One of the men was a tall and strapping blonde who reminded the old man of a mighty magician; one was an equally tall and strapping man with black hair who seemed more at ease with the danger, and the third was an attractive and upbeat Asian man with a pouch tied around his waist and seemed itching for action.
“You found our fellow,” said the raven-haired man with a distinctive British accent.
“Yes, our theory of his whereabouts proved correct. Can we get out of here?” asked the red-headed woman.
“Not a problem,” said the Asian man with a most peculiar accent. “Escaping evil is my speciality!”
With a sunny, agile bounce, he crouched down and within seconds, opened the locked door and bowed. “Ladies, after you,” he said with a triumphant and flirty air.
“How do we get out of this building?” asked the black woman as she helped the old man keep up with the group.
“I made a passageway through the ceiling and used a mirror to obscure our presence when we have to cross the hallway when we get down,” said the blonde man. “The guards won't see a thing, but we better be quick. Duct tape and wire only go so far. I also brought in something to mask our noises with ambient sound, but be as quiet and quick as you can, anyway. Our ride is waiting for us when we get out.”
“And how do we get out when the roads are blocked?” asked the Indian woman. “I don't think there would be enough of us to slap machine guns out of their hands!”
“We have an amphibious car – it hits the water and we go where our plane is waiting for us.”
“Fantastic,” smiled the black woman who hoisted the old man up to the open hole in the ceiling. “And we are five minutes and twenty seconds ahead of the optimal schedule.”
The crawling was a surprisingly quick and uneventful affair. The group of saviours seemed nonchalant to the old man, almost giddy. No one seemed afraid; no one seemed nervous. They all worked together peacefully, giving their rescue a chance to focus as his once broken spirits lifted.
When they reached their destination, each member of the team came down quietly one at a time until it was the old man's turn to jump down. The red-haired woman was still behind him and tapped him on the calves. The black woman who had already come down, grabbed him by his arms as the woman behind him lowered him down. The blonde and black-haired men grabbed him and got him to his feet with the red-headed woman coming down last.
“This way,” said the Asian man as he led the group to a backdoor to the outside where a tall freckled woman with light brown hair was waiting for them along with a dark haired woman who was looking through night-vision binoculars.
“The coast is clear,” said the woman holding the binoculars who, as the old man noticed, was wearing a Star of David pendant on her gold necklace.
“The car is waiting,” said the other woman in a thick and animated Australian accent. “He hasn't been acting like an ankle-biter, has he?”
“He has been a perfectly mature gentleman, despite his regressive state,” said the red-head.
The group began their short brisk walk toward a most singular vehicle that the old man had never seen before. It was nearly as large as a truck, yet looked like a bubble. The side door lifted up and the group hopped in one by one, the old man feeling the dark-haired man lift him and carry him into the car with ease. With the red-haired woman the last to enter, the door closed. The Australian woman was now behind the wheel as she turned on the electric car and began to drive.
“Silent, I like that,” said the black woman. “We're off the grid?”
“We are completely under their radar, so to speak. He made sure it confuses their signals.”
“We won't be electrocuted if this hits the water?” asked the Indian woman jokingly.
“We all survived the test runs.”
The blonde man looked out of the window. “Here it comes, everyone. Get ready for the jolt.”
The flame-haired woman held the old man's hand reassuringly as the car hit the water and began its semi-submersion. The woman gently squeezed the man's hand, and instead of panic, he smiled back at her.
The car drifted for no more than twenty minutes before a second jolt brought them back on to land. The driver sped up and ten minutes later stopped where a large plane was waiting.
“Wow,” said the Israeli woman. “He replaced your plane with an upgrade.”
“I'll miss my old one,” sighed the red-head. “But it was the only way. Everyone get out of the way when she drives this car inside. You take his things. I must reconnoitre out here while you all ensure no surprise stowaways are lurking within.”
The group exited the exotic contraption single-file, helping the old man to his feet and leading him to the ramp where everyone got on to the plane without incident. The Israeli woman placed the notes and suitcase on one of the lush seats on the opulent-looking plane and went to the front where it was evident that she would also serve as the pilot.
The old man sat down and put on his seat belt, impressed with the lavish interior.
“This is a step up from the old one,” said the Australian woman as she joined the group.
The engine started.
“Where is she?” asked the black woman. “We are losing our time advantage.”
The blonde and raven-haired men looked outside and saw what had kept the red-haired woman occupied. She was facing an armed man who pointed a gun at her. She merely slapped the gun out of his hand. The black woman jumped out of her seat, took out her tranquilizer gun and ran to the open door, firing it once where the man fell where he was hit.
“Come on, Maggie, out! We have to get out of here!” shouted the British man as he held out his hand to the woman as the plane began to roar. She hopped inside and sat down as the man closed the door and ran to his seat.
“He followed us here,” she said to the group.
“I didn't see anyone,” said the Australian woman.
“He used a shortcut; I saw his tracks coming from the other side.”
“He must have called for reinforcements,” said the British man. “They could attack us by air again.”
“No!” said the Indian woman. “This plane is too nice to be blown up by air!”
“I'm too good-looking to be blown up by anything! What will all the beautiful single ladies do without me?” said the Asian man who began to think. “But I know what to do – I know the code to tell them it is a false alarm.”
“Won't they know it's a ruse?” asked the blonde man.
“No, no, it's like super-secret handshake – I tell him other guy was drunk; they will not bother us.” The Asian man went to the front of the plane and emerged several minutes later, looking relieved.
“Well?” asked the British man.
“They shook and now we rock and roll!”
The plane ride was a strange one, thought the old man. The group sang, laughed, and chatted as if they were all guests at a red carpet soiree. Both the blonde man and the Asian man performed an impromptu comedy magic show to cheers and whistles. The ride was otherwise smooth; no attacks or detours impeded their progress. The plane landed two hours later, and when it stopped, a limo was waiting for the group who all hopped in. The old man looked around. The Arabic signs hinted where they were, but he looked quizzically at the red-haired woman.
“We are in Suhlistan. It is a fledgling nation between Afghanistan and Iran.”
The old man was not familiar with the place, but trusted his new-found friends and sat quietly as he looked out of the window until the car stopped at a sprawling palace. A young man of Middle Eastern descent greeted the group as they exited the car one by one. He took the red-haired woman by the hand and kissed it.
“Success becomes you,” he said.
“Your plane saved us all.”
“It is your plane now, though I must admit I will miss your old one. How is Tabitha?”
“She is thriving and happy.”
“Let us go to the palace; your friends are anxious to see you all alive and well.”
When they reached their destination, a beautiful woman with a Russian accent ran to the British man and hugged him as he held her tenderly. She then came to the old man, and with surprising fluidity, spoke to him in a few words of his native tongue, asking him a few questions. She then turned to the red-head.
“He is not as bad as it seems. He is a broken man, but is lucid enough to hold a conversation, though he is confused, but that could be also because they have starved him and mistreated him with threats and isolation. I would suggest a few days of rest before I could assess and determine what he needs.”
“Thank goodness you have all come back in one piece. I have been worried so much, I almost wished I did not ask you to look for him,” said a tall and elegant Slavic man with dark hair.
“We do our best and I am glad you asked me to rescue him from those dreadful people,” said the red-haired woman sweetly. She waved her hand toward the old man. “Could you serve as translator for us?”
“A pleasure,” said the man who began to converse to the man fluently in their shared native language. He, too, like the other two women looked familiar to him, but could not quite place him. As they spoke, the red-haired woman took the suitcase and notes and went out of the room with them before returning a few minutes later empty-handed.
The group were then served a lavish supper as they chatted in a more serious tone than they had on the plane. The old man unburdened his sorrows about his harrowing ordeal to his sympathetic companion who had been the impetus for the search and rescue mission.
An hour later, another, younger and more demurely studious black woman ran into the room with some of the man's notes. “You were right; this is some sort of blueprint program that would use artificial intelligence to regulate some sort of energy source.”
“How workable would it be?” asked the red-head.
“I can follow his notes easily. He's pretty good considering this wasn't his usual line of work. I'm really impressed.”
“I would be grateful if you could decipher it for me,” said the red-head.
“I can do one better. I can make a working model and run it, but the thing it's supposed to regulate is out of my league.”
A slender white man in his mid-forties who entered the room with the old man's other notes also went straight to the woman in the black turtleneck.
“Well?” she asked.
“He apparently was conducting an elaborate experiment of some sort in his prison cell and was keeping track of his results. From what I can gather from the raw data, they were all failures, but he was making some sort of progress, until he hit a dead end. I would say he almost worked out all of the bugs except for one.”
“Can you figure out what were the experiments?”
“You would have to ask your genius friend about that.”
“Aren't we all geniuses?” asked the Indian woman in mock indignation.
“The best of the best,” said the red-head who was emerging as the leader of the eclectic group.
Just then, a tall and handsome black man ran into the room.
“I have news.”
“Yes?” asked the woman.
“Phil and I have been monitoring and discovered that my two replacements died in two separate car accidents tonight.”
“That was quick.”
“So my dad calls me on my cell – you know, the man who disowned me when I found my backbone, and asks me should he grab the family and get out.”
“Of course he should.”
“You bet that's what I said and then I pressed him for details – he talked in the code, but heads are rolling because they let the scientist slip through their fingers – the kicker is they still have no clue why they should kill people for letting him out of their sight, but they just know they messed up big time. And here is the absolute best part, and you will all love this – the top are at each other's throats.”
“You're kidding!” said the Asian man.
“That means the other side are going at each other, too,” said the British man to the older black woman.
A sprightly brown-haired man came into the room and began to speak. “I looked at his suitcase with a protective suit, boy, was he doing something terrifying.”
“What?” screamed the group in unison.
“He was playing around with something akin to nuclear energy – he found some element you are not going to find on the periodic table, kids.”
“Gracious, what has he done?” gasped the red-haired woman with alarm in her voice.
“Well, this is a very unstable element – not something anyone else has discovered I am absolutely certain – and from his equations, he was trying to turn this thing to look like DNA.”
“Are you serious?”
“The computer program he created was trying to control it somehow, but it wasn't going anywhere. It's a guess, but I think he was trying to make some form of smart-energy that could regulate itself as it theoretically violated the Law of Conservation.”
“That energy can neither be created nor destroyed.”
“But perhaps it could reproduce after a dinner and movie. His theory was off in more ways than one, though.”
The man suddenly looked at the red-haired woman in such a way that the scientist immediately understood that the young man could see exactly where the old man went wrong in his own calculations and could fix it. The woman also immediately grasped the significance from her companion's face and shook her head. “What a tintinnabulation we have here. That is the reason it has broken loose.”
“Cake, if this gets out, both La Nuit and the Circle are going to gun for him – and for you. Do you know what we have here?”
“Yes, I do. Those impossible people do like to go after the sensible. This is a dreadful dilemma even if his initial hypothesis proved faulty. This could annihilate the world faster than a nuclear bomb; it could transmute into a virus or cancer of some sort. It could mutate the genes of flora and fauna and be misused in the right hands, let alone the wrong ones. We know nothing of the consequences whether it comes from success or failure.”
“So what do we do, Loveliness?” asked the blonde man who stood beside the brown-haired man who looked equally anxious.
The red-headed woman merely smiled serenely as she looked at them. “We are getting ahead of our story here.”
The Slavic man interrupted the conversation and pointed to the old man. “He asked me to tell you that he wants to know how it is all of us came together like this.”
“What does he mean?”
“He says though we are all very different people, we are all obviously good friends, and there has not been tension or arguments between any of us and he cannot recall the last time he saw so many people acting so peacefully in the most frightening of circumstances.”
“We still have a few hours to spare before we can get back to Queen’s Heights,” said the woman. “Why don't you entertain him with a few of our stories so he does begin to understand how we came together at this very point in time and space. He seems much calmer and lucid now. A few of our adventures may get him to break away from that inner prison that is still keeping him back.”
With that, the younger man sat down beside the scientist and with a friendly ease, calmed down the older man with the stories of how it all began.