A Tale of Two Outlaws

Parte Cinco

Belle Book

A minute later, outside Don Luis's room

Zorro had ridden Tornado to a spot underneath the balcony so he could stand up on the horse's back and reach the balcony railing. Once he did so, he climbed up the balcony railing and looked inside Don Luis's room in the tavern.

Carmen Sandiego was looking around the room. She seemed to be searching for something important. But what? What was her connection to Don Luis Alvarez?

Zorro remembered how all this happened. After returning to the hacienda, Diego had said he had a headache and had to retire. Carmen had said she was tired from walking all day and would retire early herself. She went to the guest room.

Instead of going to his room, Diego had went to the cave with Felipe and Don Alejandro. Diego changed into his Zorro costume while Felipe saddled Tornado.

Then Don Alejandro and Felipe went up to check on Carmen, while Zorro went to check on Don Luis and find out what he was up to.

At the tavern, he led Tornado around the back, and looked around to see if anyone was around.

That's when he heard hoofbeats approaching. Zorro hid Tornado behind a good place to hide while he checked out who it was approaching. To his surprise, it was Carmen on a de la Vega horse.

He saw Carmen tie her horse to the post, then use a very unfamiliar device to get to the balcony railing. She then picked the lock to enter Don Luis's room.

Now Zorro saw Carmen open Don Luis's suitcase. It was empty. Wait a minute! Carmen seemed to be examining the suitcase. She frowned, then searched it further.

After a minute, Carmen gasped, then reached into the suitcase, pulling out what appeared to be some papers. The suitcase had a false bottom!

Carmen closed the suitcase and went to the bed. Sitting down on it, she began to read the papers.

That was enough for Zorro. He had to find out what Carmen wanted with papers of Don Luis. Was she involved with Don Luis? Or did she wish to stop him?

Zorro slipped inside the window, determined to find out what Carmen was up to.

Inside Don Luis's room

Carmen almost couldn't believe her eyes. Yet she was certain what she read was true.

What she was reading was two papers. One was a list of weapons. The other was a letter.

The letter was from a businessman in Mexico City, Rodrigo Martinez. Apparently, he was to smuggle in weapons for Don Luis to use for the purpose of freeing California from Spanish tyranny.

Don Luis was to gain support for the armed revolution from among the Californians. Los Angeles was to be the first spot Don Luis was to gain supporters, and the eventual center of the revolution.

Carmen had to stop this from happening. And the first thing she had to do was tell Zorro the following morning, when he was Diego.

Of course, that would mean she would have to tell him who she really was, and why she was here. Carmen slipped the papers in her coat pocket. After all, she needed them for her purposes.

Then she turned to the window -- in time to see Zorro standing there, frowning at her.

Looks like I'm going to have to tell my story sooner than I planned, thought Carmen.

"I hope you have a very good explanation for taking those papers," Zorro said coldly.

He was angry that he, his father, and Felipe had been deceived so by Carmen Sandiego. They'd believed her story, and it appeared she had lied to them.

"I do have a good reason for taking these papers, but first I'd better tell you something very important," Carmen whispered.

"First, you must swear that what you have to say is the truth," said Zorro.

"I can understand your reasons," said Carmen. "I promise."

"Well, what do you have to tell me?" asked Zorro.

"First, I must tell you that I know that you are Diego de la Vega."

Zorro stood stunned. Was this true? Carmen knew his secret? "If this is so, how did you know?" he asked.

"I knew because I am from the future," said Carmen. "To be precise, over one hundred seventy years in the future."

This was almost too much for Zorro to handle. Carmen Sandiego had travelled back through time? Zorro was a scientist, but this was hard to believe.

"I'm certain this must be hard for you to believe," said Carmen. "But it is true. I can prove it to you if we go back to where you first met me. My time machine is behind a boulder there."

"Very well," said Zorro. "And if your story turns out to be true, I would like you to come to the cave and explain who you really are and why you are here to Felipe and to my father."

"I will do so," said Carmen.

Zorro's cave, twenty-five minutes later

Carmen sat in a chair while Diego/Zorro, Don Alejandro, and Felipe all stood, listening to her story. Carmen had led Zorro to her time machine, which had convinced him that she was telling the truth about her being from the future, and by implication, about her knowing who he really was.

Once in the cave, they found Felipe and Don Alejandro. They were surprised that Zorro had brought Carmen to the cave, but Carmen explained that she already knew about it and about Zorro.

She then told them that her name really was Carmen Sandiego, and that she had apparently lost her mother in a fire, and all memories of what her name really was. She was an orphan, or so she had assumed until recently, when she discovered that a Malcolm Avalon might be her father.

She told them of how she had become a detective for the Acme agency, but she became too good at detective work. She began to feel the need to leave Acme, or else she might burn out. Therefore, she left Acme and became a thief. Ivy and Zack were also from the future, and were detectives for Acme who always chased her.

Carmen assured them that she was not here to steal anything, however. She spoke about the crisis she'd undergone recently, and how reading the book "A Conspiracy of Blood" had triggered in her a desire to find out what happened to Zorro ultimately. That was why she was here.

"Unfortunately, it appears I'm going to play a part in the conclusion of your story, whatever it is," Carmen concluded.

"And the medicine?" Zorro asked. "How did you get it?"

"I got it from the Luiseno Indians on the Pala Indian Reservation in the future," said Carmen. "I asked for it, but the shaman said she couldn't give it to me. Therefore, I stole it. However, I will return it as soon as I go back into the future."

"You should," said Zorro, his voice soft and somewhat threatening.

"But if you had no intentions of stealing anything in 1821, why did you steal Don Luis's papers?" Don Alejandro asked.

Carmen took the papers out of her coat pocket, handed them to Zorro, and said,

"Once I learned about Don Luis, I was afraid he was up to something, so I entered his room, hoping to find something. Those papers are what I found, and I believe you'll find them interesting, Zorro."

Zorro looked at the papers, then at Carmen.

Finally, he handed them to Don Alejandro, turned to Carmen, and asked, "Are you in favor of violent revolution?"

"I'm against violence," said Carmen. "Ivy and Zack will tell you that I'm not violent, and that many times, I've gone out of my way to save them from danger even though they were chasing me at the time.

"I stole the papers to stop him. I decided to give them to you because I know you aren't violent, and that you'd try to stop him. I want him stopped."

"So, you're offering to help me," said Zorro. "I must warn you, however, I'm in love with Victoria."

Carmen remembered reading two short stories where a woman fell in love with Zorro, causing problems for Diego. No doubt Zorro was thinking of both of those times.

"She doesn't have to worry," said Carmen. "I won't be a rival."

Zorro sighed in relief, and then frowned. "If Don Luis discovers the theft, he might think I did it and get the Alcalde after me."

"If that happens, I'll say I did it," said Carmen. "I doubt he'll do it, however. That would run the risk of alerting the Alcalde to his intentions."

"You may be correct," said Zorro.

"I do want one of you to do me a favor," said Carmen. "I want you to tell Ivy and Zack to stay inside the church and not to interfere in any of my actions. They are very young, and Don Luis is violent, as you well know, Zorro."

"You do not want them hurt?" Don Alejandro asked.

"No!" said Carmen. Her alarm was real.

Zorro stood up then and said, "I'll go. And then I'll pay Victoria a visit. I'll warn her, but not tell her too much. We'll keep the papers until we need to reveal them."

Zorro then mounted Tornado.

"Be careful, my son," Don Alejandro said. Felipe also signalled his desire for Zorro to be careful.

"Be careful, Don Diego," Carmen said.

"I will," said Zorro.

Then he left the cave.

The church in Los Angeles, a few minutes later

Ivy and Zack were in a little room inside the church talking to the Chief. Padre Benitez had left them and gone to check on the orphans who lived with the Padre. They explained what they had found in Los Angeles, including the fact that the de la Vegas had taken in Carmen Sandiego.

"We still need to know why Carmen's here," said Ivy. "And why she's with Don Alejandro and Diego de la Vega."

The Chief accessed his memory banks for a minute. "Diego de la Vega -- I think I remember the name."

"The tavern owner -- Victoria Escalante -- also mentioned Zorro," Zack added. "Maybe we should find him and tell him about Carmen."

"Zorro! That's where I remember the name!" said the Chief suddenly. A picture of Zorro came up as the Chief continued, "Zorro was a famous outlaw from Califoria during the colonial period. He fought against injustice and tyranny. But until later, nobody knew who he really was."

"Who is he?" asked Ivy.

Zack then gasped. "Diego de la Vega? Is Zorro really Diego de la Vega?"

"Yes," said the Chief. Then he said, "Ack!" and vanished.

Zack and Ivy turned -- to see a man dressed entirely in black, with a long, black cape, and a black mask! He carried a whip and a sword.

"You are Ivy and Zack?" asked Zorro.

"Yes," said Ivy. "And you are Zorro?"

"," said Zorro. "I have a message for you."

"Before you give it, Señor Zorro, we must ask you if you know anything about a woman named Carmen Sandiego," asked Zack.

Zorro remembered hearing the Chief Carmen had mentioned revealing who he was to Zack and Ivy before he was spotted.

"I do," said Zorro. "I know that both of you are from the future, and that she's a thief who's also from the future. In fact, she was the one who gave me the message I have to give you."

The two stared at each other.

"What message would Carmen want to give us?" asked Ivy.

"That you stay inside the church and not interfere with her," Zorro said. "You remember hearing about Don Luis Alvarez?"

", Zorro," said Zack.

Zorro explained how he saw Carmen steal papers belonging to Don Luis, and his discovery of her purpose in coming to the past.

"You mean Carmen was curious about what happened to you after this book she read, and that's why she's here in the past?" asked Zack.

"," said Zorro. "As for the papers, they reveal plans to smuggle weapons inside California for a violent revolution. I want to stop this, and so does Senorita Carmen. But she does not want you involved."

"Why?" asked Ivy.

"Because she does not want you hurt," said Zorro. "Don Luis is both an excellent swordsman and he is violent. He might hurt you."

"Are you certain Carmen's purpose is to protect us and not to prevent us from stopping her from stealing something valuable here?" asked Ivy.

"When she said she didn't want you hurt, I could hear a genuine alarm in her voice," said Zorro.

Ivy and Zack both thought for a minute, then Ivy said, "Let's contact the Chief."

This will be a first for Zorro, Zorro thought.

A few minutes later

Once the Chief appeared, Ivy and Zack explained the situation. Zorro had stood some distance away, listening in but not saying anything.

"Chief, do you think that it would be best to do what both Carmen and Zorro suggest and remain here in the church?" said Ivy.

The Chief thought for a minute, then said, "If this guy is as violent as Zorro says he is, I think it would be best for both of you to stay here. Yes, Ivy, that includes you."

Ivy flushed. She knew the Chief was referring to her willingness to risk her life in pursuing Carmen.

She still had a hard time believing that Carmen's purpose in warning them through Zorro was concern for them.

Still, she did remember the time that Carmen stole that tower in Bavaria, Germany. Ivy was hanging on for dear life as it was airlifted when Carmen urged her to take Carmen's hand.

Ivy refused, not wishing to accept the help of the woman she wished to capture, and thinking she could take care of herself.

What was surprising, now that she remembered it, was that Carmen went out of her way to try to help Ivy. And there were other times, too, when Carmen went out of her way to help the detectives who were always pursuing her.

Also, Zorro seemed to believe that Carmen was concerned about them. And, he did know Don Luis, and seemed to believe that the guy was dangerous.

So Ivy made up her mind. It would be difficult to stay inside the church, but she would do so. So would Zack.

That's when Zack said, "Zorro, I'll stay in the church and not interfere."

Ivy said, "So will I. I promise."

"Gracias," said Zorro to them. "I will tell Señorita Carmen. But first, I must go to the tavern. I wish to speak to Victoria."

Ivy remembered Victoria's telling them about her love for Zorro, and Zorro's love for her.

Zorro saluted them all, then disappeared out a window.

"I just hope this Don Luis is not more trouble than Zorro can handle," said Zack.

Or Carmen, thought Ivy.

Victoria's Tavern, a few minutes later

Victoria had seen Don Luis go to his room, so she went up to her own room. There she was just about ready to open a drawer where she kept the ring Zorro had given her, when she heard a pebble hit her window.

Zorro? she wondered.

Sure enough, when she looked out her window, there was Zorro.

"I hear you have a guest. Is he in his room?" he asked.

"Yes," said Victoria.

Putting on a shawl, she went down, opened the back door, and let Zorro in.

"I hope I'm not bothering you, Victoria, but I have to tell you something very important," said Zorro.

"What?" asked Victoria, realizing something was wrong from the serious look on Zorro's face.

"I found out some disturbing news about your guest," said Zorro.

"Don Luis Alvarez?" asked Victoria. Zorro nodded. "What?"

"He plans to have weapons smuggled into California as part of a plan to free California from Spanish tyranny -- by means of violence. I have to stop him, or innocent lives might be hurt."

"How did you discover this?" asked Victoria.

Zorro seemed to hesitate for an instant, then he said, "When I learned he was here, I planned to check his room for evidence of his intentions here. However, someone else had the same idea in mind. A señorita in a long red coat stole the evidence, and when I caught her, gave it to me."

Carmen Sandiego? thought Victoria, remembering the woman with the de la Vegas.

"Would her name happen to be Carmen Sandiego?" she asked.

"," said Zorro. "She also wants to stop him. So she asked to help me stop him."

Victoria frowned. Señorita Carmen was a rather beautiful woman.

"I hope you're not interested in Señorita Carmen," she said.

Zorro smiled and said, "No. I love you, querida. I could never love anyone else."

Then he drew Victoria into his arms and kissed her, tenderly at first, then more passionately.

The passion in his kiss was all Victoria needed to be reassured of his love for her. When he raised his head,

Victoria said, "I just hope Señorita Carmen doesn't try to win you from me."

Zorro chuckled and said, "I told her that I was in love with you. She told me she would not be a rival."

Victoria sighed in relief.

"I wish I could stay with you forever," she whispered, resting her head against his chest.

"So do I," Zorro whispered, "but I must go now."

Slowly, reluctantly, he released Victoria. He went to the door.

"Hasta luego, querida," he told Victoria, smiling. "Be careful."

Then he went out the door and was gone.

Remembering what Zorro had told her, Victoria thought, You be careful, querido.

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