A Tale of Two Outlaws

Parte Tres

Belle Book

The VILE Base on Gaveston Road, Houston

Ivy and Zack emerged from the C-5 Corridor.

Looks like Josha's modifications to the C-5 Corridor worked Ivy thought, as she looked around her.

They were in a corridor. Most of the doors they saw were open, but one was closed. Ivy and Zack snuck up to the closed door, and tried it. It was unlocked. Opening the door, Ivy and Zack peeked in.

To their surprise, they saw Carmen, a scientist -- and Carmen's time machine! They also saw "A Shepherd's Boy" and "The Milk Maid of Bordeaux" nearby.

"How would Carmen be able to get that painting and that sculpture inside her time machine?" Zack whispered to Ivy. "And where's the medicine she stole?"

"I don't know, but I think it's time we found out," said Ivy.

She then pushed the door open and asked, "What are you up to this time, Carmen?"

"You'll see," said Carmen. "Two of the items I stole are the clues."

With that, she ran to her time machine. Zack and Ivy began to follow her, but two of Carmen's henchmen stood in their way.

Of course, Ivy took care of the henchmen with her famous karate chops, but by the time she did so, Carmen had already gotten into the time machine and turned it on! Ivy and Zack ran toward it, but it was too late. The time machine spun rapidly, then disappeared in a flash!

"She got away again!" cried Ivy.

"Chief, send us the Chronoskimmer!" Zack said.

"OK," said the Chief. "I'm sending it with someone you probably know very well."

A minute later, Armando Aguillera, an Argentinian detective Ivy and Zack knew very well, arrived with the Chronoskimmer!

"Ivy, Zack! It's been a while since we managed to stop Lee Jordan from taking control of VILE," said Armando.

"Armando!" Zack cried. "And you have the Chronoskimmer!" Armando gave the Chronoskimmer to Zack.

"How'd the Chief get hold of you so fast?" asked Ivy.

"I wanted to find out how you were doing, so I went over to Acme Headquarters," explained Armando. "The Chief explained what you were doing, so I decided to stay there in case I was needed."

"Well, we need your help," said Ivy.

"Carmen's gone back in time, and we must capture her. However, it appears she left behind "A Shepherd Boy" by Thorvaldsen and "TheMilk Maid of Bordeaux" by Goya. We need you to return them to the museums where they belong."

"I can return the painting easily," said Armando. "But I'm going to need some help with the sculpture. It's over 4 feet tall, and is probably very heavy. However, I think I can call in some of my fellow Argentinian agents for help with that."

"While you do that, we'll track Carmen down," said Zack as he activated the Chronoskimmer.

"Where's she headed to?" asked the Chief.

Before Zack could answer, the time corridor opened and he and Ivy disappeared inside it, leaving Armando to get help for returning the sculpture and the painting.

Outside Los Angeles, 1821

Carmen's time machine landed behind a hill on the road to the de la Vega hacienda.

Carmen said, "Computer, have we arrvied at the right time and in the right location?"

The computer said, "Confirmed. The information you gave me allowed me to arrive at the exact moment that Diego de la Vega said that he was going to adopt Felipe. We are currently on the road to the de la Vega hacienda."

Good, thought Carmen. After she decided which objects she wanted to steal besides the herbal medicine, she had her scientist program the time machine, giving him her book as the guide.

She had decided it would be best to arrive at the exact moment that Diego's decision to tell his father and Victoria that he was Zorro took an unexpected detour. So she told her scientist to program the time machine to arrive at that moment.

And it looked like he also used the book's descriptions of the area to program in the best location for her to meet the de la Vegas, just as she hoped he would.

So, Carmen reached into her pocket to assure herself that the herbal medicine was there, and pushed a button.

Immediately, the door opened and the world's greatest thief of the twentieth century, Carmen Sandiego, stepped out to face her latest challenge.

Los Angeles, 1821, a minute after Carmen's arrival outside the pueblo.

"Do you remember when Gilberto was about to shoot you?" Don Alejandro asked. "He said he was not only going to kill you, he was also going to kill -- and then he never finished. What do you suppose he was going to say, Diego?"

Diego hesitated for a minute. While he wanted to tell his father the truth, he didn't want to tell his father right there. "Father, I think we'd better go back to the hacienda," he finally said. Don Alejandro looked puzzled for a minute, then nodded.

They walked back to Felipe and Victoria. Diego signaled to Felipe that they were going back to the hacienda.

Then Diego turned to Victoria. He said, "Victoria, we're going back to the hacienda. We've all had a difficult time and I think we need to rest." He knew he did, with that gunshot wound still troubling him.

Victoria said, "Okay, but I hope to see you tonight."

"If I'm feeling up to it, I'll see you tonight. If not, I'll see you tomorrow," said Diego.

With that, Diego, Don Alejandro, and Felipe untied their horses and left the pueblo.

On the way, Diego tried to keep his fears from overwhelming his resolve. He had always wanted to tell his father the truth -- that he was Zorro. But he also wanted to protect his father.

If Zorro was unmasked, he knew that his father would be in trouble. So he pretended to be too studious, weak-willed, and clumsy with a sword, even to his father. And he'd been successful -- until now. However, his father had seen his skill with the sword. He'd be asking questions soon.

So, Diego had resolved to tell his father the truth. He just had to keep his fears from stopping him. His reverie was interrupted at that moment by the neighing of his horse.

Looking ahead, he saw the strangest woman he'd ever seen before. She was dressed in a very long red coat, and wore a red hat. She wore the hat in such a way that it covered one of her eyes. Her hair was black and the eye that could be seen looked blue.

"Buenas tardes, seņorita," said Don Alejandro. "Do you need some assistance?"

"Gracias, seņor," said the woman. "I was on my way from Monterey to San Diego de Alcala with some good friends of mine who were going to move there.

"We were attacked by bandits and I escaped, but my friends were killed. Now, I'm all alone and I need a place to stay for a while."

"You can stay at our hacienda till you can continue on to San Diego," Don Alejandro said as he, Diego, and Felipe all dismounted and approached the woman.

"I'm Don Alejandro de la Vega," Don Alejandro said. "This is my son, Diego -- " Diego nodded -- "and this young man is his servant, Felipe, who will soon be a permanent member of our family."

The woman's face saddened. "Family," she said sadly. "That's why I came to San Diego in the first place. My parents came there from Spain. I was from a poor family, and I was born there. But they were killed by Indians and only I was left.

"I had no living relatives, so I went to live in an orphanage in Spain. My first name was Carmen, and the orphanage people gave me the last name Sandiego, because I was born in San Diego. So I'm Carmen Sandiego."

"Welcome to Los Angeles, seņorita," said Don Alejandro. "You can ride a horse, can you?"

Carmen smiled. "I can."

"Then you can ride with me," said Don Alejandro. He extended a hand to the woman in red. "Felipe's riding with Diego."

Carmen took his hand and pulled herself up, seating herself behind Don Alejandro, much to the men's surprise.

Once she was on Don Alejandro's horse, they continued on their way to the de la Vega hacienda.

"It's kind of you to let me stay at your place," Carmen said.

"It's good to get home again," said Don Alejandro. "We've had a rough time very recently."

Carmen knew what Don Alejandro was referring to, but she couldn't tell them she knew the truth yet. So instead she asked, "What happened?"

Don Alejandro explained all that had happened in the last few days, beginning with Gilberto Resendo's arrival in the pueblo, and ending with Diego's suggestion that they go back to the hacienda.

Don Alejandro then explained all about Alcalde DeSoto and his predecessor, Alcalde Ramone. They were both tyrants who oppressed the people. However, one man fought against them, and that man was El Zorro.

"I have heard of him in Spain," said Carmen. "I hope to meet him someday."

Of course, she knew that she'd already met El Zorro when she met Diego, but only she knew that yet. However, Don Alejandro might learn that his son was El Zorro soon.

As for her story, she suspected Don Alejandro would have it investigated, and that Diego would investigate it, too. She knew that Diego would probably find out she was lying, and in that case, she was prepared to tell him the truth about herself.

A minute later, they arrived at the de la Vega hacienda and dismounted. Another servant took the horses away while Carmen, Don Alejandro, Diego, and Felipe went inside.

Inside the de la Vega hacienda

"Felipe, prepare the guest room for Seņorita Carmen Sandiego," said Diego to Felipe. Felipe went to do so.

"Seņorita, wait here until Felipe returns," Don Alejandro said to Carmen. "He'll take you to the guest room."

"All right," said Carmen.

Don Alejandro then turned to Diego.

"Well, can you explain what Resendo meant, Diego?" asked Don Alejandro.

Diego said, "Father, would you come with me?"

Don Alejandro agreed, and soon they stood in front of the fireplace. Diego took a deep breath to steady his nerves.

"Father, did you hear anything about a secret passageway built by the previous owner as a means of escape from the Indians?" Diego asked.

Don Alejandro frowned, then said, "I believe I did hear a rumor about it, but I believed it was just a rumor."

Diego pushed the secret lever and the secret door opened. "It's no rumor, Father."

Inside the cave, a minute later

Don Alejandro couldn't believe what he was seeing.

He was in a cave underneath the de la Vega hacienda. And the cave was filled with stuff he'd recognize anywhere.

There was a table filled with chemicals. There was also a stable, and inside the stable was Zorro's horse, Toronado! And off to the side, Don Alejandro could see the black clothes, hat, cape, and mask of Zorro! But what were they doing under his hacienda?

"Diego, what's all this doing under the hacienda?" Don Alejandro asked.

Diego said, "Father, I am Zorro. I have always been Zorro. When I came home from Spain, I saw the tyranny Los Angeles was under, and I realized the only way to resist it was to assume a disguise. "I didn't tell you or Victoria because I wished to protect you both. If I was unmasked, you both would've been put in jail by the Alcalde. The only person who knew was Felipe. He can hear but he pretends not to hear so as to aid me."

Don Alejandro couldn't believe it for a minute. My son, Zorro? he thought.

Then he remembered Diego's interest in chemistry -- an interest Zorro had as well. And surely he should've considered the possibility that Zorro could avoid being detected for so long because he never allowed people to see how brave he was in real life!

But the assumption that Zorro would show his skills when he didn't wear the mask as well as when he did was a natural assumption -- and probably the reason why Diego took such a course of action.

Diego interrupted Don Alejandro's thoughts by asking, "Father, do you hear me?"

"I heard you," Don Alejandro said. "It's just that I had to accept what you said." He then cried out, "I was such a fool! I thought you were too weak-willed to stand up to the Alcalde, and you were standing up to him all along! Will you forgive me for not seeing the truth?"

"Yes," said Diego. "Will you forgive me for deceiving you?"

"Yes," said Don Alejandro. "I'm proud of you -- Zorro."

They hugged, never seeing somebody peeking out from the passageway. Carmen Sandiego smiled as she watched them, then crept back up to wait for Felipe.

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