Quest Seven -- The Con Artist

by Enola Jones

The tall man pulled his hat down over his longish-blonde hair, and pulled his jacket collar up to protect his neck from the rain. He strode down the back streets, a hand occasionally patting the deep pockets of his jacket. Every now and then, he would stop and turn, as if hearing noises behind him. But then he would begin walking again, with the steady, purposeful stride of a man with a mission.

As he neared an alley, four men suddenly appeared out of thin air. Peter saw him coming and whispered an order to Micky, who quickly turned the quartet invisible. The man peered into the alley, but saw no one. So he headed on his way.

The air itself seemed to thicken as the Monkees shimmered into view. Peter motioned for silence and looked out of the alley, watching the man. Suddenly, Peter noticed he wasn't getting wet any more, and looked up, startled. The rain was hitting above him and running down a large unseen circle that surrounded him.

Peter turned, to find each of the Monkees was surrounded by a similar circle. Micky met his eyes and smiled. Peter smiled his thanks and went back to watching the man.

Suddenly, from the next alley up, six figures swarmed over the man. They knocked him to the ground, and began punching and kicking him. He was trying valiantly to defend himself; but to no avail.

"No!" Peter ran from the alley, forcing Micky to release his field.

Micky sighed and looked over at Davy. "We going to get involved again?"

Davy grinned ruefully. "Sure looks that way."

Mike glared at the pair. "Come on, guys. He is our leader."

"So?" Micky asked.

"So, we follow his lead! Come on!" Mike ran from the alley. Micky and Davy looked at each other, shrugged together, sighed in unison, and followed Mike.

One of the men punching the downed man suddenly found himself airborne, then unceremoniously dumped onto the sidewalk. He glared up at his assailant, only to find himself peering into two bright blue lights coming from a dark shape silhouetted against the night and the rain. The man scuttled backward, brown eyes widening.

"Quién... qué es usted?" he stammered.

Peter took a step forward, grinning. "What am I?" he asked, with a deliberately diabolical laugh. "Your nightmares come to life."

The man gained his feet and ran away, screaming. The other five beaters had stopped their assault, and were watching Peter with looks of terror. Suddenly Mike raced up beside Peter. His wrists pulsed five times and five bursts of white light struck five pairs of eyes. Curses in Spanish erupted as the assailants clawed at their eyes.

Mike's uppercut took care of one. Peter TK'd another into a wall. Two others were seized by the scruff of their necks by eight-foot-tall Davy, their heads banged together. The last one was gasping for air and striking at an unseen globe around his head and neck. Micky suddenly dissolved the field and pushed the man toward Peter and Mike. Peter took Mike's left hand in his right, fingers interlocking. The double uppercut sent the last one off to dreamland.

Peter popped his aching knuckles and walked over to Micky. "Why'd you drop your shield?"

Micky shrugged. "It was taking too long to knock him out."

Peter nodded and turned back to the others. Davy was shrinking to his normal five-foot-three. Mike bent over the victim. He lifted the man's hat and held it over his face, shielding it from the rain. He shone a light into the victim's face to see the injuries better.

Suddenly, Mike drew in a sharp breath.

"What is it?" Peter asked.

"Pete," Mike said softly, "you'd better see this."

Peter walked over and squatted by Mike. "What's wrong?" Mike lifted the hat from the man's face. He held his hand above the hair and his hand glowed white.

Peter drew in a sharp breath as he saw his own face. He was shaken to the core to see the bruised, battered cheeks and swollen lips, the forehead rapidly swelling. To see "himself" in that state chilled him more than the pouring rain. He took a deep breath and turned to Mike. "How badly injured?"

Mike shook his head. "I won't know till I can get him somewhere dry and examine him."

"How about here?" Micky called. "There's a large empty warehouse that we can convert into a makeshift headquarters!"

Mike looked at Peter. Peter nodded, calling, "Go for it, Micky! You and Davy scrounge up a bed and some supplies! Don't forget medical ones for Mike!" Peter looked at his double. "Why'd they do this to him?"

Mike smiled slightly. "Bet you're going to find out, aren't you?" Peter nodded again, frowning as he studied his double's marred features.


Three hours later, Mike sighed as he walked over to where Peter sat perusing some papers he'd found in his double's jacket. Peter turned to him. "Well?"

Mike shook his head, sagging into a chair. "Well, he's got a massive concussion. I can't tell how it's affected him till he wakes up. Two ribs broken, another three severely bruised. His arms are massively bruised, and both knees were dislocated." He shook his head again. "They did a number on him. They would have killed him if we hadn't intervened."

"Probably," Peter said. He held up a sheaf of papers. "I know who our mystery man is." At Mike's arched eyebrow, Peter smiled. "Not his name, but what he does. He's some kind of high-level courier. These are papers detailing troop build-ups and deployments in South America. It looks like these people are preparing to go to war."

"No," Peter's own voice, shaky and soft, said from behind them. Peter and Mike rose to their feet and walked over to the cot, where the mystery man had opened his eyes. "No, we're not preparing to go to war. We're trying to stop one."

"I don't understand," Mike said. "Who are you?"

"You don't understand?" The man shook his head. "You mean you don't know about the Colombian situation?"

"We're strangers here," Peter said.

The man started and turned his head slightly. "Your voice -- it's mine!"

Peter and Mike's eyes met. "My voice isn't the only thing," Peter said. "Don't you see the resemblance?"

The man shook his head. "All I see is blackness."

Mike instantly shone twin beams of light into the man's eyes. He looked up and shook his head. "The concussion," he said softly.

The man nodded slightly. "You're a medic, aren't you?"

Mike grinned. "Sort of. I'm the closest thing these guys have. My name is Mike."

"Well, Mike, how long will I be blind?"

Mike shrugged. "Till the concussion wears off. A week, maybe a month."

"A month?" The man tried to sit up. "I can't wait a month! I have to complete my mission!"

Peter grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back into the pillow. "Whoa, there! You're in no shape to complete anything! You just stay put."

"You don't understand! If I don't complete my mission, thousands will die!"

Peter frowned. "All right. Suppose you start at the beginning and fill us in. Maybe we can help."

The man shook his head. "I can't do that. Not without proper authorization."

Peter took a deep breath. "Mister, you would have died if we hadn't beaten those punks. Isn't that authorization enough?"

The man blinked. "You two beat those assassins?"

"No," Mike said, "we four did. Two of our number went to scrounge up some food."

The man took a deep breath and nodded. "All right. I have no choice but to trust you. My name is Peter Torkelson. I'm a diplomatic courier. I was trying to get vital intelligence information to the White House when the Cartel jumped me."

"How far away is this white house?" Mike asked.

Torkelson grinned. "You have no idea where you are!" he realized. "The White House is twelve blocks from where I was jumped. You're in Washington, D.C."

Peter frowned, the importance of what they were in hitting him hard. "All right. When do they have to be there?"

"At seven AM. That's when the meeting is."

"What room?"

"You are spies!" Torkelson bellowed.

"No, you don't understand," Peter said. "I look and sound exactly like you. I've studied those papers while you were unconscious. You're in no shape to complete your mission. I'm offering to take your place."

Torkelson considered, then nodded. "The War Room off the Oval Office. How long was I out?"

Mike checked his watch. "About three hours."

Torkelson groaned. "You'll never make it! You've only got about fifteen minutes!"

Peter shrugged out of his red tunic. "Change clothes with me. I'll make it."

After the exchange was made, Torkelson repeated, "You'll never make it!"

Peter smiled, adjusting the hat on his head. "I'll make it."

Mike smiled. "Good luck, old buddy."

"Thanks." Peter looked up at the warehouse skylight. His eyes glowed, and he rose from the floor. The skylight slid open and he glided through. The skylight slid shut behind him.

"What's that noise?" Torkelson asked.

"Peter leaving."

Torkelson gasped. "His name is Peter, too? Your name... is it Smith?"

"Nesmith. Why?"

"Because I just pinpointed your voice. You've the same voice as our President!"

Mike grinned at the thought. Nez for Prez, came to his mind and he barely restrained the chuckle.


Peter sighed as he dove and retrieved the hat for the fourth time. Twelve blocks was not a long distance by air, but that darned hat kept blowing off! Peter replaced the hat on his head -- again -- and resumed his pace toward the White House. He could see it now, a brilliant jewel in the night.

He pulled up short and hovered for a second, glowing eyes taking in the surroundings, looking for a place to land unseen. He kicked backward, propelling himself head-downward. Then, he sighed in aggravation and dove after the hat again. As he caught it and straightened, lowering for a landing, a brilliant light flared in his eyes.

"Who are you?" a rough voice growled. "What are you doing here?"

Peter's mind whirled, trying to think of a reasonable answer. Then he realized he was still five feet above the ground, and his eyes were still glowing. He smiled and rose another two feet in the air.

"Who am I?" he laughed. "Is there any human that can do this?"

The guard behind the flashlight blinked as the man rose from the beam, making the glow of his blue eyes more pronounced. "I... I..."

"I'm a figment of your imagination," Peter said in a spooky voice. "And if you mention me to anybody, I'll..." He focused on the flashlight and made the switch move to off.

The beam went out and the guard silently sagged to the pavement.

Peter landed beside him and cut off the glow in his eyes. "I love doing that," he chuckled.

He snuck to a sidewalk and walked confidently up to the front of the White House, presenting Torkelson's identification to the guards. "Peter Torkelson. I have a meeting with the President at seven."

One of the guards nodded. "President Smith is expecting you."

Peter stepped inside and stopped short. He turned back to the guards. "I... uhm..."

The other guard chuckled. "I know, Mister Torkelson. I get confused, too. It's a big house! Turn right, go down this hallway, seventeenth room on the left. You'll need your PIN to get inside."

Peter nodded, then frowned. "I'll need my what?" He began to rub his head.

"Are you all right, sir?"

"My head hurts a bit -- PIN?"

"Personal Identification Number..... sir?"

Figuring he'd asked enough questions and the guard was already suspicious, Peter smiled. "Thank you." He walked down the hallway, trying to appear nonchalant.

As soon as he was out of sight, he flew the rest of the way, trying to figure out what exactly a PIN was, and then to think of a likely one. Landing just outside the door, he typed in his birth date on a number pad. He barely restrained the cheer as the lucky guess opened the door.

He entered into a sight that reminded him of pictures he'd seen taken during World War II. The president, Mike's double, was huddled over a table with advisors all around. Peter scanned the room and swiftly located Davy and Micky's doubles.

The President raised his eyes. "About time!" he roared, but he was smiling. "Did you run into trouble?"

Peter nodded. He took off the devilish hat and hung it on the already overloaded tree by the door. "I got ambushed by the Cartel."

The president stood erect. "Did they get the plans?"

Peter drew them out of the jacket. "No. Some passers-by helped me fight them off."

"They didn't recognize you, did they?" Davy's double asked. The Southern accent took Peter by surprise.

Peter shook his head. "But I did have to help one of them. The Cartel hurt him pretty bad."

President Smith glared at him. "You had to what?"

"They helped me. It was the least I could do."

Smith sighed. "I suppose. The main thing is, you're here. And only five minutes late."

Peter's eyes narrowed slightly. He's attaching more importance to these papers than Torkelson's life, he thought. What's going on here? Peter lay the papers on the table and scanned it, picking up a paper from the pile. "What's this?"

Micky's double took it from him. "Nothing. Just trash."

But Peter had seen the paper. As he nodded and returned his gaze to the map of Colombia, his photographic memory processed what he had just seen. He leaned on the table to keep upright when he realized that the paper was an outline of a plan for a nuclear attack on Colombia.

"Torkelson?" Smith asked. "Are you all right? You're pale."

Peter shook his head and met Smith's eyes, smiling. "Just past my bedtime." The whole table erupted in laughter, as he had intended. Peter then took a deep breath. "Sir... about these plans... I couldn't help wondering why they are so secret? I mean, we're trying to stop a war, aren't we?"

Smith smiled. "Torkelson, you're in so deep, I might as well let you in on the whole thing. Those plans are tactical information on troop build-up and deployments in Colombia. I have reason to believe they are preparing to launch a naval assault on Florida and other Gulf Coast states."

Peter touched his head. "I don't understand." He grinned slightly. "I got conked in the attack."

Smith nodded. "You've seemed a bit befuddled. All right. We shut down the main drug pipeline and the natives got a bit upset. They're going to invade us to get revenge." He smiled a cold smile. "But they're not going to get the chance. We're going to wipe them off the map." He turned back to his planners and coldly began to calculate a precise time and place to drop a nuclear weapon.

Peter scanned the table, feeling a cold knot form in his stomach. His double had been deceived, and his first instinct had been right. Peter's eyes fell on the outline for the attack. It rested under two other sheets of paper beside Micky's double's hand. Lowering his head so no one would see, Peter's eyes began to glow.

The paper slowly moved off the edge of the table. It floated underneath till it encountered Peter's hand. Peter wadded it up and stuffed it into his jacket pocket. Then he cut off the glow and smiled at Smith. "Sorry, sir... I'm not feeling well. My head is pounding."

Smith nodded. "Understood. Go rest, but be back here in five hours. We'll need the input of the diplomatic corps to maximize the damage."

Peter nodded and strode from the room, leaving the irritating hat behind. Outside, he leaned against the wall and shook his head. The president was insane!


Torkelson was sitting on the cot, fingering a bracelet on his wrist, when Peter returned.

"How is he?" Peter asked.

Mike nodded. "He's better. Still blind, but stronger." He smiled. "And his bracelet is the fourth jewel."

Peter nodded. "Does he know?"

Torkelson answered. "Mom said it was special. She just never knew how special." He slid it off and held it out. "Here... take it if it's what you need."

Peter hesitated as his fingers closed around it. "But... your mother gave it to you."

Torkelson shrugged. "We were never that close. It always struck me as a bit gaudy."

Peter took the bracelet and slid it into his jacket pocket. His fingers touched the paper. "Mike... there's something the three of you have to see. Mister Torkelson, please listen. This is very important." Swiftly, he outlined what he'd seen and heard.

Davy whistled, shaking his head. "He's out of his mind!"

Torkelson rose to his feet. With Mike guiding him, he moved to the table. "But we must follow him. He's our president! Besides, we'll never be able to prove what you say."

"Oh?" Davy asked.

Torkelson nodded. "We call him The Snake. He can slide out of any scandal and come out better than before. There's no way you can prove he's mad."

Peter asked him bluntly, "Do you trust us?"

"I do now," Torkelson said. "You saved my life and confirmed my gut suspicions about Smith and this whole situation. I know I sounded like super patriot earlier, but I just didn't know if I could trust you."

"Peter," Micky pointed out, "we'll be bringing down this government."

Torkelson shook his head, smiling. "No you won't. You'll just be removing a barrier to peace. What did you have in mind?"

Peter looked at his friends. "Mister Torkelson, you are going to be helping us. You're about to hear some things even you might not believe, but trust me, they're all true."


Three hours later, a pounding came on the War Room doors. Smith looked up, puzzled. "What in the world?"

"Mister President!" came a voice. "Please! Let me in!"

"It's Torkelson!" Smith gasped. "Open the doors!"

Torkelson stumbled in, wearing medieval clothing, hands reaching. "Mister President!" he gasped.

Smith took Torkelson's wildly reaching hands. "Torkelson! What... What is it? Your clothes..."

Torkelson gasped, "I was attacked, sir! By the Cartel! They stole my clothes and the papers! They blinded me! Please... I'm so sorry!"

Smith frowned. "Torkelson... you delivered the papers here not five hours ago!"

Outside and above the roof, Peter turned to Micky. "Ready?"

Micky nodded. "This is gonna hurt."

"Can't be helped," Mike said. "Do it."

Micky's eyes widened slightly, then narrowed. "You're in a field. Go."

Peter took a deep breath. He tightened his grip on Mike's ribs and rose higher into the air, then yelled, "Close your eyes!" Mike shielded his face as Peter headed into a nosedive. He heard Micky's gasp of pain as the field smashed the White House roof.

Smith and the others looked upward as the ceiling fell in on them. Jaws dropped as two men glided in under their own power. One was a dead ringer for Torkelson, except for the brightly glowing blue eyes. He wore the clothes the fake Torkelson had on earlier. The other was the President himself!

Peter dropped Mike in the center of the room and pinned Secret Service men telekinetically to the wall. Mike's lasers destroyed every weapon in the room. Then he turned to the President.

"Wipe out thousands of lives, will you?" he sneered. He raised a hand toward the table. There was a flash of bright yellow light, then the papers on the table were burning. Mike's eyes had never left his double's. "I don't think so. Find another way to deal with these people -- a peaceful way. Or we'll be back. And we won't be so gentle." He stepped aside and reached a hand toward Torkelson. "Peter Torkelson. Come with us."

Torkelson took a step forward, hands reaching. Mike took them and nodded at Peter. Peter scooped them up and lifted them through the ruined roof.

The President stood there, looking up, mouth open. A Secret Service man walked over to him. "Sir?"

Smith looked at him, eyes glazed. "Did you see that?" Then Smith burst from the War Room and raced down the hallway, yelling incoherently.


Torkelson smiled as he groped for the switch on the TV. "Well, that's that."

"Oh?" Davy asked, yawning as he came into the room. "What did I miss?"

Peter grinned at him. "Our little performance worked. Wish you could have seen it."

Davy shrugged. "Nothing for me to do in it. I'd only have been in the way. What did the bulletin say?"

Torkelson chuckled. "They took the President to the Arlington asylum for observation. He's raving about flying men and glowing eyes. He spilled everything about every scandal he's ever been involved in. Vice President Ferraro got back into town and she's been sworn in. She's mopping up the aftershocks of the scandals and she's opened peace negotiations with Colombia."

"It's time," Peter said. He took Torkelson's hand. "We must be going, now."

"Goodbye, my friends," Torkelson said, hugging Peter.

Startled, Peter returned the hug. "Good luck," he said.

Torkelson broke the embrace and smiled. He turned and walked toward the door, feeling his way. The Monkees waited till he was through the door and going down the street, then Peter reached into the pocket of his jacket. He pulled out a ring of copper tubing.

"Peter," Micky gasped, "that's not..."

Peter held up a hand for quiet. He looked out the open window at Torkelson's back, and his eyes began to glow.

The copper tubing rose from Peter's hand and flew toward Torkelson's back. It hovered there while the bracelet Torkelson had sneaked out of Peter's pocket gently lifted from Torkelson's pocket. Then the copper tubing slid gently into the empty pocket.

Torkelson didn't feel a thing.

The bracelet flew over to Peter, hovering above his hand. Peter's eyes stopped glowing, and the bracelet fell neatly into his palm.

"Wow," Micky whistled softly. "A double bait-and-switch! Peter, where'd you learn that?"

Peter smiled at Mike as he surrendered the bracelet to Davy. "I learned from the best, watching Michael lead us."

After the general hilarity died down, Davy used his tracer to return the bracelet to its natural form as the fourth jewel, an emerald, and send it to Phyllis. Then Mike triggered his watch, and the Monkees vanished.


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