(Author's notes: This part will involve another duel, only this time, I do not plan on having any deaths. I also hope to put in more details during this duel than I did during the one I did earlier.)
The bottom of Canon Perdido
Zorro had left his horse near the way out he'd found earlier, and had snuck down to where Don Luis was watching over Victoria. Now, he was only a few feet away.
Don Luis then asked nobody in particular, "Where is Zorro? He should be here by now."
Turning to Victoria, he said, "Yes, I'm waiting for Zorro. As soon as I hear his horse's sound, I'll hide and wait for him to climb down to check on you. Then, I plan to attack him and vanguish him. I will gain my revenge on him for what I have lost. And when he's defeated, nobody will stop me!"
"You have to defeat me, first," said Zorro.
Don Luis turned around, and saw Zorro standing a few feet away.
"What -- how did you get down here without me hearing you?" sputtered Don Luis.
"That's my little secret, señor," said Zorro, grinning his roguish grin.
Don Luis looked at Victoria, then approached Zorro. When he was about two feet away, he drew his sword. Zorro drew his sword, smiling as he did so. But inside, Zorro was barely holding his temper.
Don Luis had kidnapped the woman he loved, was trying to use her as bait to entrap him, and was willing to loose chaos and devestation in order to gain his purpose. The only reason Zorro was able to keep his temper was because he knew that if he lost his temper, he'd probably lose against Don Luis.
Remember, let him attack, he reminded himself. Defend until he's expended much of his energy.
So Zorro stood still and waited for Don Luis to come to him.
Don Luis was even more furious now than he'd ever been. He thought he could hear Zorro coming and take him by surprise. However, Zorro had taken him by surprise. This time, the masked menace would pay!
Both he and Zorro got in the en guarde position. Then Don Luis attacked, lunging at Zorro. Zorro retreated.
Don Luis pressed him back a few feet, then Zorro stopped. The attack had run its course. Don Luis attacked again, but his blade was neatly parried this time. Zorro grinned at him. This enraged Don Luis.
Don Luis kept attacking El Zorro, but El Zorro parried every lunge, thrust, and cut effectively.
However, during the duel, an odd feeling kept nagging Don Luis, a feeling that this man's swordfighting style seemed familiar. But where had he fought a man with a similar style?
Then Zorro parried his blade and allowed Don Luis to crash right against him. That's when the light came on in the man's brain.
He was back in the University of Madrid, fighting a duel with Don Diego de la Vega. Don Diego had prevented one too many duels, so he was now in a duel with Don Luis. And one of Don Luis's thrusts had been trapped -- by the same move!
That's when his thoughts were interrupted -- by a black boot thrust at his stomach! Don Luis fell back.
Fury at having been thrown back so easily was probably responsible for what happened next. He yelled, "So! We meet again, Diego de la Vega! Only this time, you'll lose!"
Zorro's eyes flickered.
While Zorro and Don Luis had been fighting, Victoria had watched, hoping that Zorro would defeat Don Luis.
About a minute after the duel began, she had felt the gag being untied from her mouth. When she looked to her right, she had seen Carmen Sandiego!
"Ssh!" Carmen had whispered. "I came here to rescue you while Zorro is busy fighting Don Luis."
Victoria had nodded, and allowed Carmen to untie her bonds. Another minute later, she was free.
That's when Don Luis had addressed Zorro as Diego de la Vega!
Diego? Impossible! thought Victoria. She was about to deny it to Don Luis, when she felt a hand on her mouth.
"Ssh!" Carmen whispered. "I don't think it's a good idea to let Don Luis know I took off your gag!"
Victoria whispered back, "It can't be! Diego can't be Zorro!"
Carmen whispered, "Are you so certain Diego couldn't be Zorro?"
Victoria frowned. Then she remembered the look on Carmen's face when Don Luis had made his statement. There was no surprise on her face.
Memories came back to her, in bits and pieces. There was the time two bandits who robbed the military payroll escaped and kidnapped her.
During the rescue attempt, a bandit had held a knife on her and ordered Zorro to turn around. Zorro did, and the bandit had begun to walk with Victoria, only for Zorro to whistle. Don Diego's horse had reared and knocked the bandits out!
Zorro had told her that it appeared Diego had been training his horses to respond to a whistle. She had later told Diego not to imitate Zorro.
She also remembered the time when she had accompanied Diego on a trip to meet with the Royal Spanish Emissary. They had spent the night together because of a storm, and he had quoted poetry to her -- a quote that Zorro later echoed!
Finally, she rmembered how Resendo had threatened to seize the church and its property, and would not use the de la Vega funds to pay the war tax. Zorro had arrived with the de la Vega money, which he had stolen -- or so she thought. Now, all was clear. Zorro had been Diego all the time!
Turning to Carmen, she whispered, "It's true? Diego is Zorro?"
"Sí," said Carmen. "I've known that for quite some time. I have another secret for you as well. It concerns me."
"What?" whispered Victoria.
"I'm from the future," whispered Carmen.
And as the two combatants fought, Carmen told her story to Victoria.
Zorro had heard Don Luis address himself as Diego, and knew that unless Carmen had gotten Victoria away from the scene, Victoria knew now that Diego was Zorro. He would have to deal with that -- after defeating Don Luis.
As they fought, Zorro realized that Don Luis was growing tired from having to attack all the time while Zorro merely defended himself. It was time to go on the attack.
So, Zorro changed from a defensive position to an attacking one, lunging forward and forcing Don Luis back.
Don Luis tried to parry him as best he could, but he'd lost much of his wind attacking Zorro earlier, and therefore wasn't in much of a position to defend himself well.
Now Don Luis and Zorro were fighting right in front of Victoria and Carmen. Don Luis was near the end of his strength.
Desperately, he called up his last reserves of strength -- and made one mistake in his exhaustion!
Zorro saw his opportunity, and with a simple thrust, tore Don Luis's sword out of his hand! Then he placed the sword against the exhaused man's heart.
"Go -- go ahead and kill me, Diego!" Don Luis gasped.
"Murder is a coward's solution," Zorro said. "Señorita Sandiego, where is the rope that was used to tie up Victoria?"
"Here it is, Zorro," said Carmen. "I'll tie him up. I believe you've got some explaining to do to Victoria."
Seeing Victoria's stunned face, Zorro had to agree. "I'll do so as soon as you begin tying up Don Luis. Once I'm finished talking to Victoria, I'll take Don Luis in, and you take Victoria back to the tavern."
Carmen approached Don Luis, and began tying him up. Zorro dropped his sword and approached Victoria.
Victoria stood still, attempting to comprehend what she had just learned.
Diego de la Vega was El Zorro. He had deceived everyone into thinking he was weak-willed, too studious, unskilled with a sword. But he was Zorro. And he was the man she'd fallen in love with. Yet, why had he never told her?
Zorro now stood in front of her, awaiting her response.
"Diego?" she whispered, approaching him.
Zorro didn't move. Instead, he stood still. Victoria felt her hands move toward his mask, untying it, then pulling it off.
Diego stood in front of her, his face showing his nervousness.
"Diego," she said. "It's you."
"Sí," said Diego. "I've always been Zorro."
"Yet you never told me," Victoria said. "Why? You said you loved me, yet you never told me who you were."
Diego bowed his head. A minute later, he looked up and said,
"It wasn't because I did not love you that I didn't tell you. I didn't wish Alcalde Ramone, and later Alcalde DeSoto, to have any excuses to move against those I cared about. So, I hid my face behind a mask -- and my true self behind one, too.
"For years, only Felipe knew. He can hear, but he pretended not to be able to, so as to help me. But after Resendo's death, I had to tell my father. He knows the truth now.
"I felt I had to protect those I cared about. Will you forgive me for deceiving you?"
Victoria thought for a minute. She was willing to forgive, but she mischevously decided to let him sweat it out for a minute.
"Victoria --" Diego began again, pleadingly.
Victoria looked up at him and smiled, then said, "I forgive you. You did what you felt you had to do. I --" At that moment, Diego kissed her.
They kissed for awhile, then separated.
Victoria said, "Did you know Señorita Sandiego knows who you are?"
"And that she's from the future?" Diego asked. "Sí. She told me."
He then turned to Carmen, who was watching with a smile on her face. Don Luis was bound.
"He's ready, Diego," she said.
Diego put his mask back on, then handed Victoria to Carmen. He whistled for Tornado.
A minute later, Tornado appeared. Diego, now Zorro, took Don Luis, placed him on the stallion, then mounted and rode off.
Carmen took Victoria and used a hook and line to get them both out of the canyon.
The pueblo, a few minutes later
Sergeant Mendoza had been inside the cuartel when the sounds of a horse galloping into the plaza alerted him.
He would've gone searching for Don Luis near Canon Perdido, but had gotten a message sent by Corporal Sepuleveda. The Governor had been in Santa Barbara when the corporal arrived with the bad news about the Alcalde, and the Governor was coming to put a new Alcalde in charge. Besides, Mendoza didn't want to face a furious Don Luis.
When Mendoza looked out, he saw El Zorro galloping toward the cuartel with someone tied up!
The soldiers would've shot at Zorro, but Mendoza said, "No!"
Zorro said, "Gracias, Sergeant." He dismounted, and threw his prisoner at the feet of the soldiers guarding the cuartel. It was Don Luis.
"Here's your prisoner," he told Mendoza. "Keep a good eye on him until he can be sent to the Governor."
"The Governor's coming to Los Angeles," said Mendoza.
"Really?" said Zorro. "I did not know that. He will know the true state of affairs here very soon, then. Adios, Sergeant."
Zorro saluted, then got on Tornado and galloped off.
The soldiers would've shot at Zorro, but Mendoza said, "Take Don Luis in. He's under arrest for murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to smuggle in weapons."
The soldiers frowned, then approached Don Luis and sent him inside the cuartel.
The following day
Carmen accompanied the de la Vegas and Felipe to the pueblo to meet the Governor. Maybe at last justice could come to Los Angeles, without violence.
She had taken Victoria back to the tavern, then galloped back to the de la Vega hacienda, where she learned from Diego that the Governor was coming to Los Angeles, no doubt to appoint a new Alcalde. Maybe she could help in that matter.
As she arrived in the plaza, she saw the Governor arriving with an escort and being greeted by the Sergeant. Among the people in the crowd, she saw the Padre, Ivy, and Zack.
I'm glad Don Luis is now in prison, and that Ivy and Zack haven't been hurt by him, she thought.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the Governor.
"Sergeant, I am glad that you have the murderer of Alcalde DeSoto in jail. When I return to Monterey, I will deal with him. However, you say that El Zorro is responsible for his capture."
"Sí, your Excellency," the Sergeant said. "He is an outlaw, but he is a good man. He has captured many bandidos, and has not done any harm to the people."
Except for the time he was accidentally hypnotized, Carmen thought.
"Zorro only rides when there is injustice being done to the people," Mendoza continued.
Victoria stepped forward and said, "The sergeant tells the truth. Zorro only rides to defend the people. If there was justice here, he would not need to ride out."
The crowd agreed. The Governor looked around.
"If this is true, then I believe we need to appoint an Alcalde who knows the needs of the people, and is willing to help them.
Carmen then spoke. "I am a newcomer, and I have spent my time here with Don Alejandro de la Vega. He is an excellent man, truly dedicated to helping the people. And he's lived here most of his life. Who could be a better Alcalde for this pueblo than he?"
Victoria and the rest of the crowd joined their voices in support. Diego looked at Carmen and smiled. She smiled back.
The Governor asked, "Who are you, señorita? Señora?"
"I am known as Señorita Carmen Sandiego," said Carmen. "My true last name is unknown, because I am an orphan."
"You have made a good argument, señorita," said the Governor. "Don Alejandro de la Vega, are you willing to replace Ignacio de Soto as Alcalde of the pueblo de Los Angeles?"
"If the people are willing to let me be their Alcalde, I am willing," said Don Alejandro.
The voices of the crowd provided the answer. They were willing.
"Then, in two days, Don Alejandro will be appointed the new Alcalde of Los Angeles," said the Governor.
"And when that happens," said Don Alejandro, "I will issue a pardon to El Zorro for all his work in support of the people."
Carmen and Victoria both cheered, and the crowd soon joined them.
Two days later, inside the plaza
Don Alejandro had mixed feelings, mostly good ones, but a few sad ones as well.
Carmen had told him, Diego, and Felipe, that as soon as Zorro had obtained his pardon and was unmasked, that she would leave and go back to her own time period. He was sad to see her go, as she had been so helpful, but she did need to go back to her own time period.
The sad feelings, fortunately, were more than balanced by the good ones. Justice would finally come to Los Angeles. He would issue a pardon to Zorro -- his son. And his son would finally be free to marry Victoria.
His thoughts were interrupted by the Governor, who appointed him the new Alcalde. Beside him was Felipe, Victoria, and Sergeant Mendoza. Carmen was in the crowd. Diego wasn't around, but Don Alejandro knew he'd come soon.
Sure enough, a minute later, a scout caught sight of Tornado approaching the pueblo. Then Zorro arrived on Tornado, to the cheers of the crowd.
Zorro managed to get through the crowd to the platfrom where Don Alejandro and those with him stood. Then, Don Alejandro said,
"Zorro, for all your services in support of the people, I present you with this pardon."
He handed Zorro his pardon. Zorro looked at it, smiled, and said, "Gracias, Alcalde."
Victoria then approached Zorro. He said, "I promised that when I took off my mask, I would marry you. I believe it is time."
Victoria smiled, then reached up and took off Zorro's mask. Don Alejandro smiled as Diego's face was revealed.
"Diego!" said Victoria. "It is you I love! I should've known."
They embraced and kissed. That's when Don Alejandro heard a sound beside him. Looking to his right, he saw Sergeant Mendoza on the ground in a dead faint.
Victoria then took out the ring Zorro gave her, a ring that Don Alejandro recognized as belonging to Elena de la Vega, and Diego put it on her finger for the second time.
Two minutes later
"There she is!" Ivy whispered to Zack.
They had followed Carmen out of the crowd to the tavern, where they saw Carmen mounting a horse. She then began moving toward the back of the tavern.
"We've got to follow her," said Zack. "She's probably leaving the pueblo."
"Well, the Padre did allow us to use his horse, if we promised to return it or to send it back," said Ivy.
With that, they got the Padre's horse, and urged it outside the pueblo.
Sure enough, there was Carmen, galloping off.
"Come on, let's follow her!" Ivy said.
They galloped off after Carmen.
At the time machine
Carmen slapped Estrella and the horse galloped back to the pueblo.
That's when Ivy and Zack arrived on a horse of their own.
"We're here to do what Zorro did to Don Luis -- arrest you," said Ivy.
Carmen smiled, said, "I don't think so," and took the medicine bottle out of her coat pocket. There had been some medicine left.
"Catch," Carmen said, throwing it at Ivy.
As Ivy moved to catch it, Carmen ran to the time machine, pursued by Zack.
Carmen got inside her time machine, set the coordinates to the present, and pressed the button.
Within minutes, Carmen was gone from the year 1821, where she had helped to make history.
Acme HQ, in the present
Zack reflected on the events that had happened.
Ivy had caught the bottle, but Zack hadn't been able to reach the time machine before it went back to the present.
They did activate the Chronoskimmer, but by the time they reached Carmen, she was leaving in her jet-copter.
With Carmen gone, all they could do was return the medicine to Running Brook, and learn that Armando had gotten the painting and sculpture back to their rightful owners.
And think about the strange adventure they'd had.
"So, Carmen wanted to go back in time to discover what happened to Zorro after an adventure she'd read," he heard Ivy say.
"And the medicine was apparently meant for him," said Zack. "That's what Zorro told us."
"But if that's the case, why did she steal a painting and a sculpture? And why did she then leave it?" Ivy asked.
Zack said, "Chief, was there any connection between the painting, the sculpture, and the year we went back to?"
"There sure is," said the Chief. "The year you went back to was the year 1821. 'A Shepherd's Boy' was done between 1817 and 1825. And 'Milk Maid of Bordeaux' was done by 1828."
"Of course!" said Zack. "Carmen stole the painting and sculpture as clues! She tried to tell us she was going back to the 1820s!"
"And the thefts she did before this series of thefts all involved masks, like the one Zorro wore," said Ivy.
"And we missed the significance of the clues," Zack said.
"Well, at least Carmen did stop a madman from hurting innocent people," said Ivy.
"Yes," said Zack.
Los Angeles, two months later
Laura de la Vega was so happy.
Today was her wedding to Señor Carlos Martinez, and many people were giving her wedding presents.
Suddenly, her grandfather came to her and said, "Excuse me, but a mysterious woman dressed in red sent you this gift. She said that she was sorry she couldn't be at your wedding, but she wanted you to have this."
He handed her a package, then left her alone. There was a note attached to it.
Laura opened the letter first. It said,
Señorita de la Vega,
I believe this will interest you very much. I am Carmen Sandiego, who helped your ancestor when he was El Zorro. I have written this manuscript about my adventure in the past, and I want you to have it.
Laura opened the package at once, and began to read it. It was entitled "A Tale of Two Outlaws".
Once she was done, she whispered, "Gracias, señorita, for the help you provided Zorro, and for your kindness to me."
She did not notice the shadow of Carmen Sandiego leaving the scene.
I wish to thank Ms. Ruth Rechsteiner for providing me with a possible motive for Don Luis, and for inspiring me with the scenario for the climatic duel scene; and Mr. William Thomas for encouraging me to write a story based on the 1990 Zorro series, and for providing me with the name of Laura de la Vega.
I'd also like to thank them, and all the others who've read my story while I was working on it, for their encouragement.
As Carmen would say, "Adios, amigos, until next crime."