Neptune's Payback - Part 5

This is a continuation of:
Neptune's Payback - Part 5

As he walks across Saint Peter’s Square, Cooper thinks back to the chain of incredible events that lead up to his return to the Vatican.  

He and Amanda had flown to DC when they left Paris, carrying a flash drive with pictures of their trip like every other tourist.  After a meeting with Virtus, Mars and Vulcan in the bar of the Hay Adams Hotel (which he and Amanda had actually walked into like normal people rather than using the sci-fi transporter he'd used on his last trip to visit them), Coop flew home to Rio.  Alone.

He hadn’t heard from Amanda again.  But after a charter one afternoon three weeks later, he opened his apartment door to the distinct scent of her perfume.

“Minnie?”  Walking through his few rooms, it didn’t take long for the surge of excitement he’d felt to fade.  He was alone.  Huh, he’d thought at the time, first time I’ve had an olfactory hallucination.

He’d grabbed a beer from the fridge, picked up the International Herald Tribune he’d purchased on the way home, and went to the couch.  As he leaned over to set his beer on the coffee table, he’d discovered a large manila envelope lying dead center. Inside, he’d found a first class ticket to Rome, the sealed envelope he just gave to the Swiss Guard, and a note from Amanda.

When he opened the note, a newspaper clipping had fallen out.  He’d set it aside for the moment and read the note.

Dear Coop,

      You done good, Mr. Cooper.  We turned over the pictures that you and I took during our little adventure to the Vatican.  Seems that bust is just what they were looking for.

      Apparently, the Pope is extremely grateful.  He wants to see you.  Your ticket to Rome is enclosed.  When you get to the Vatican, just give the sealed envelope, also enclosed, to the Swiss Guards.

      I've also enclosed a newspaper clipping I'm sure you'll find interesting.  Terrible what the world is coming to, isn't it?

      Virtus, Vulcan and Mars send regards.


P.S.  Oh, forgot to mention...  You've been granted a full pardon for you past indiscretions.  You're free to return to the US, should you ever decide to leave paradise.

He laid the note on the coffee table, picked up the clipping, and read the article.   

In the most startling art heist in history, every copy of a Rodin bust of an obscure cleric has been stolen from all the museums worldwide in which it was displayed, including the Musée Rodin, home to the original.  Authorities are baffled, saying they don’t have any leads to the perpetrators of this brazen and well-orchestrated crime.


Now, Cooper can’t help but remember that last time he was here at the Vatican.  He looks around, half expecting a bunch of the gendarmerie to swarm him, but no one is paying him the slightest bit of attention.  Hmmm, maybe I can go get my ring after this audience is over, he thinks.

As instructed in a note written on the outside of the sealed envelope, Coop walks past the water fountain on the right and up to the Swiss Guards standing outside large bronze doors on the far end of the left colonnade.  He presents the sealed envelope to one of the guards. 

“Per favore seguirmi, il signore.”  Please follow me.  The guard leads Cooper through the doors and down several hallways, each more ornately decorated than the last.  They go through several unmarked doors, and as they pass though a set of gilded doors at the end of all long hallway, the guard says, “Palazzo Apostolico.”

Coop is handed over at that point to a guy in the robes of a priest or cardinal – Coop doesn’t know – who takes him upstairs and to a doorway.  He pauses, says, “His Holiness will see you now,” and opens the door.

Inside, seated in a somewhat ornate chair, but not the throne Coop was expecting, is the Pope.  Coop walks over, reminding himself that his instructions told him to genuflect.

“Welcome, Mr. Cooper,” the Pope says accented English as Cooper stands again.  “I’m very glad you could make it.  I wanted to thank you myself for the great service you have given the world.  You may have well prevented a collapse of not only the Church, but all of society as well.”

Coop murmurs an acknowledgment, wondering what the hell that scroll on the bust said.

The Pope holds out his closed had toward Cooper and says, a smile on his face, “in gratitude, I want to give you this.  I think you’ve earned it.”

Coop puts out his hand to receive the small item the Pontiff drops into it.  He looks down to see Armand de Périgord’s gold signet ring in his palm.


Pushing open the bronze doors to Saint Peter’s Square, the Swiss Guard stands aside to let Cooper pass.  When his eyes adjust to bright glare of the sun, Coop’s heart skips a beat when he sees Amanda standing by the fountain waiting for him.  She looks more gorgeous than ever.


Amanda walks over to him, smiling broadly.  “Rome is a glorious city, Neptune.  I thought you might like to take in a museum or two while you’re here.”

She links arms with Cooper and turns toward the Via Della Conciliazione and the city beyond

“And don’t call me Minnie.”

The End


This was written for the Tenth Daughter of Memory


  1. Que?

    Aight... it's clear that you wrote at a furious pace, making it just as clear that there's more to this story. Overall, the dialog seems to have taken a step back, but the plot and characters are doable.

    Yes, I stand by my claim that you've usurped the cast of Remington Steele. Which I like, actually. It'll work.

    But... from what you've posted, this is definitely The Da Vinci Code-lite. I'd have to see more of what you have in mind for this before I offer encouragement or discouragement. Care to send a pitch via email?

    Interesting, to say the least, and it's fun seeing you go epic.

  2. patti, you put together a rather fun romp...and of a length i have not seen you play at until now...feels good just to let it go eh? the characters were enjoyable...i like movies like national treasure or da vinci code, witht he hidden clue scavenger hunts through history so a nice write.

  3. Such a shame you rushed the end. I'd have gone 6 or 7 to save the story. Interesting, a little too Da Vinci Code for me. I'm still not sure why the discovery would have caused the collapse of the Church. Perhaps I need to read the last two installments again. Well researched. The best deli and patissierie in the world are in San Germaine. Did they remember to nick the Rodin busts at the Australian Art Gallery in Canberra? hehehehe!

  4. Brava, Hermana. Well done. Really well done. I like this very much - it COULD be a whole book if you wanted it to be.


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.