When I first met Nichole she was practicing martial arts with an old man at a temple in China. I had been sent by the MapMaker to pick something up from her.
She was the most  graceful person I had ever seen. She moved with cat like speed combined with such power that even I feared a confrontation with her. I was truly awed by her. It was hard to take it all in when I walked into the old temple. I wondered to myself "how could she be so warrior like and so beautiful at the same time?" The steely hissing sound of her swords singing from the shrill of the blades being quickly rubbed against each other made magical music. It sounded like  serpents  hissing in agitation of being pushed hard against one another. The ballet she practiced was both violent and harmonious at the same time. Not one time did she glance my way when I came in the door of the temple. I was no distraction to her or her foe. They both considered my presence of little importance compared to their exercise of perfection. They continued for at least five minutes covering the entire room and then suddenly stopped as if on queue, both knowing that
exact instant  was the time to stop. There was no bell or whistle something subtle had happened beyond my understanding that ended the beautiful battle. They each bowed in respect towards each other and parted their ways with out even a word of encouragement or admiration to the other. They seemed to know within, that all went well for that days practice.  Nicole looked my way for the first time since I came into the room and nodded. "Who sent you" She asked with a firm but feminine voice. "The MapMaker" I responded  As she walked closer I could see the sweat dripping down her smooth face and along her thin neck. The closer she got the more stunning her beauty became. Her features were chiseled to perfection. She stepped close to me smiling as if she knew she was taking my breath away at the same time antagonizing me with her warrior like appearance. It didn't help she had two long shinny swords in each hand. "He said you would have something for me to take back to him" I said with flirtatious excitement in my voice. "Oh" she said still staring at me smiling. She knew I was taken back by her and she most likely knew every man who came upon her was smitten. "And who are you" She asked in a more serious voice. "Tony. Tony Salarino" I said as I held out my hand. I was excited just with the thought of holding her hand for but a split second  during a hand shake. She nodded her head in lieu of shaking hands. "Follow me and you can talk to Mr. Sung while I shower."  We walked out of the old Temple and into a near by bath house. The showers were all open in the huge room with no privacy. It was like a communal shower. The priest she had been working out with was standing in the next room. I stood there for a moment expecting her to lead me to him and introduce us. Instead she began pealing off her outer garments as if she planned to shower regardless if I was there or not. I stood and stared at her for but a brief second then realized she must expect me to leave the room and introduce myself to the old Priest. I hesitated just long enough to see her take off her outer clothing, down  to her gym shorts and tight shirt, both drenched in sweat. They clung tightly  to her body exposing her perfect figure. I did not want to offend her by staring, so I quickly walked out of the room. I walked up to the Priest and bowed  respectfully. He bowed back but did not return my smile. His eyes where cold steel giving no indication of his thoughts about me. "My name is Tony" I said as I stretched out my hand. He too refused the gesture and walked away saying "Follow me." I followed him into a dark room filled with weapons on every wall. There were swords, knives and guns of all kinds. He reached up to a knife on the wall and pulled it off the hook that held it. It was a long bladed knife with a very large handle. He then nodded towards a chair as he slowly rubbed the blade and said "sit".

I sat down in a chair against the wall and he sat at the desk in the middle of the room. There was silence. He stared at me and I stared at the weapons on the wall. I was there to see Nicole not him so I was not worried that we were not making conversation. Finally after almost ten minutes of numbing silence Nicole came into the room looking more beautiful than she did before. She looked fresh and revived from her shower. There was a bounce in her step and far less intimidation in her stance. "Ok Tony I know you came a long way for this and I feel certain you are who you say you are but first take off your shirt and show me the scars the MapMaker told me about." I did not say a word and began to take off my shirt as I had so many times before. The MapMaker knew of my battle wounds and scars. He made every person I met make sure I had them. It was his way of letting them gain confort in authiticating I was who I said I was. I was more than happy to show Nicole what kind of shape I was in. I slowly unbuttoned my outer shirt looking her in the eyes  hoping  for some sign she was impressed. When I pulled my undershirt over my head I expected her to walk up but instead we stood there looking at each other connecting in a sexual way. She then slowly walked up to me staring at my shoulder. I had been shot in a gun fight years before and it had left a very small entrance wound on my chest and a huge scar on my back where the bullet had exited. I knew I could turn around and show her what she was looking for but instead I made her walk around me. She came close and put her hands on my shoulder and back turning me to the side for a better look. "I see" she said slowly. "Looks painful" She whispered in my ear pushing her breath hard against my neck. "Who did the art work?" She asked referring to the Tattoo I had on my back using the scar as part of the art work. "Mitch out of St. Louis." I said. "Oh yea I know Mitch. The only one legged tattoo artist I know." She responded in code letting me know she too was who she said she was. "Are you done looking or do you want to see more?" I asked referring to my nakedness." I am done for now but I may want to see more at a latter time" she said with a sexy grin.

Let's get down to business she said abruptly turning away and walking towards Mr. Sung. As she moved closer to him he stood and held out the knife holding the blade in his hand and giving her the handle. She took it from him and turned towards me looking stern. "Three Hundred Thousand Dollars please" she demanded. I continued to put my shirt on wondering if she was going to kill me with the knife when I told her I didn't have the money. "You know I can't get that kind of money into China". I said as I shoved my shirt in my pants. "If I can, why can't you?" she demanded. Sensing her agitation I responded quickly "The MapMaker told me to tell you your dream plane was being delivered to Beijing today and that it was getting through customs as we speak.  He said it cost him more than Three Hundred Thousand not counting the delivery cost. He also said if you did not believe me e-mail Snake@GunRunner.biz for confirmation." Let's do that right now"  She said angrily as she walked around the desk to the computer. She moved quickly as if letting me know from her body language that she was not all that thrilled with my lack of money.   The computer seemed out of place with it's thin screened techy look compared to the rest of the room full of old weapons from ages before.

After typing on the computer and sitting silently for a few minutes the sound of the computer telling her e-mail had arrived filled the room. She leaned towards the screen reading intently.  Looking up with a smile she suddenly jumped up and  grabbed the Mr. Sung hugging him. "We got our Plane Mr. Sung. We got our Plane!"  Her giddy excitement was so out of control compared to her demeanor moments before it was almost refreshing to see another side to her.  Still Smiling she looked at me now sitting in my chair against the wall. Suddenly she grabbed the knife off the desk and reached back and threw it hard at me. Before I could move the knife was vibrating with a low muffled sound dug into the wall next to my head. "There's your Map Tony. " She said with Glee. I was totally lost at her excitment and what she meant by throwing a knife at me and calling it a map. Doing business in Hackers Canyon for so many years I knew it was not uncommon to feel lost much of the time. So it came as no surprise when I had no Idea what she meant by "there is your map". I stood up and pulled the knife out of the wall looking on the wood for some kind of map embedded on it. I leaned over and tried to focus on some sort of hidden map on the wood work. "No Tony!" She giggled " It is inside the knife. Unscrew the end of the handle and you will find it. " I felt a little silly but slowly unscrewed the end of the knife and out fell a Flash Drive. "It is all on there. The whole map and even directions on how to get there. Codes to the safe and even codes to the outside gate are on it. Tell him he is never to send this info over the internet because it will get picked up by the Government spooks and they will know I gave it out." She then turned to Mr. Sung and hugged him again jumping up and down like a little girl who just got her most wanted toy.  After she settled down she turned to me and asked. "How long do you plan on staying Tony?" "Oh I don't know it depends on what there is to do around here. " I responded hoping she would invite me to stay for a few months.
"Would you have time to go get the plane with me?" she asked knowing I would say yes. "That sounds like fun. Who is going to fly it back?" "I am of course. I have been flying since I was a little girl. My father taught me to fly in the Back Country of Australia. " He was a smuggler and I went on many a run with him. So you will go with me?" She asked still sounding like a little girl. "Sure; why not? I do need to be in Africa for a week or two. Can we get back that fast?" I asked "Oh it will be an adventure flying across China in my new plane. I will have you back in no time" She assured me.  Needless to say we didn't make it back for more than three months and that was with some lucky breaks just getting back at all.  That is another story however.... I will tell you about it next time you meet up with me.

Tony






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