Chapter 50

Not Even Chipped

In the cave of ancient shrines, just beyond the glowing form of the guardian, Parker stepped out of the nook in which he had been hiding and watched the mercenaries strip the camouflage uniform from the dead man.

They had entered the cave without incident, despite the weird glowing lights that swirled through the air like wisps of glowing smoke, and discovered the open door and the strange, glowing statue of a naked woman holding diamonds in her cupped hands. Even though the weird lights seemed to emanate from the diamonds, Parker had taken this as a good sign that they would soon find Oliver and Jeanne.

Then the statue had spoken in a language that none of them understood.

One of the mercenaries, a short, burly man with a shaved head and an automatic rifle, had not taken that especially well.

Now he was dead, put down with a bullet to the head like a mad dog when he refused to stop emptying high velocity rounds into a seemingly invulnerable statue from point blank range. Three others had been wounded by glancing strikes from ricochets, but as far as Parker could tell they would be able to carry forward with little more than a bandage and some pain killers.

Parker stepped through the glowing tendrils of light that threaded through the cavern and stood before the statue. It looked at him, blinking its glowing stoney eyes, and spoke in that strange language. To Parker’s ear it sounded like the language that the mercenary captain used to communicate with his troops, but then nearly all foreign languages from this part of the world sounded alike to him. It would have been a lot easier if everyone would just learn a solid business language like English, or even Mandarin.

“I knew that there was something wrong about this job,” the captain said as the stepped up beside Parker.

“Wrong? I don’t see anything wrong, captain. All I see is some sort of automaton.”

“An automaton that can deflect armor piercing bullets? The bloody thing isn’t even chipped!”

Parker shrugged and gestured down the tunnel. “We need to be going. If your men are going to be so unreliable then you need to give me the dead man’s handgun, just in case any others go rogue.”

The captain squinted at Parker and worked his jaw for several long seconds before nodding his head slowly. He waved over one of the mercenaries who had stripped the dead man and, after a brief exchange in a language Parker didn’t understand, took a large handgun from her. “I’ll let you carry the gun, but only because I’ve got a bad feeling about whatever might be down that tunnel.”

Parker grinned and held out his hand for the gun. “Captain, I’m sure that whatever is down there will be most profitable for all of us.”