Secret Passage of Time

Parte Tres: The Threat

Rachel Rosenthal

"What in the world are you talking about? Tha..that's impossible?!?!" Alice was able to stammer. She began to feel very lightheaded and very shaky. "Oh, my. I feel a bit..." She began to sway but Don Diego was able to reach her in time before she fainted dead away into a heap on the floor. Diego and Felipe helped her to a chair then Felipe took the laptop from her hands, looked at it quizzically, and placed it on a small table. He also took the camera from Ted, who just stood there completely dumbfounded, speechless looking at his nephew.

"What in the world is going on here!?!" Don Alejandro demanded. "Where did they come from? What in the world did these poor people mean when they said that this is their home!?!?" He looked from Diego to the children then to Felipe searching for someone who would give him a sound explanation.

"Umm, well, these are not ordinary children, father. Do you remember the old folktale about that cave?"

"Vaguely. But I don't see..." Don Alejandro replied.

Don Diego interrupted, "Well, apparently the story is quite true. Three years ago, this cave transported Allison and Todd here from 1998. That is why they seemed to come from nowhere and our inability to locate their aunt and uncle. Felipe, the children, and I were able to figure out how to return them to their time. As I see it, the same circumstances were correctly aligned and the cave sent not only the children back but their aunt and uncle as well. I am not sure what they mean about our hacienda being their home, though. By the way, very nice to meet you and welcome to our home. I am Don Diego de la Vega and this is my father Don Alejandro." Diego shook the bewildered man's hand.

"Ted Bennett. Pleased to meet you...but what IS going on here? I am still a bit confused. We went back in time?" Ted awoke from his daze and walked over to his still unconscious wife, kneeled down next to her and gently began to shake her to revive her. "Alice, Alice, wake up honey." He repeated quietly.

Alice began to stir and slowly opened her eyes. "I just had the strangest dream...Oh my G-d..." She gaped at the small crowd of people around her. "It can't be true."

"I'm afraid it is, honey. Apparently we are sometime in the 1820's. I am not going to try to explain it because I have absolutely no idea how to try. This is my wife, Alice. These are the de la Vegas, Don Diego and Don Alejandro. I am sorry", talking to Felipe who stood behind the chair Alice sat in. "I did not catch your name."

"His name is Felipe and he is Don Diego's servant. He can't talk or hear but he is really cool" Allison exclaimed virtually jumping up and down at the same time. "He can read lips and stuff. Felipe gave us Amiga." She stopped jumping and hugged the dog closely while Todd nodded vigorously.

"A pleasure to meet you Felipe," Ted said as Felipe nodded politely shook his hand. Felipe also nodded and smiled at Alice. Don Alejandro and Diego both kissed Alice's hand.

Ted then turned to the de la Vegas, "To answer your question, Don Alejandro, we bought this house several years ago, well in our time anyway, apparently from one of your descendants. We restored much of the original interior design of the house but it is still very different from the way the house is now."

"Darling, I think I need to lie down" Alice told to her husband.

"Of course. Both of you should rest. Felipe, will you show Señor and Señora Bennett to a guestroom so they may rest for a while. After come back in the drawing room. I think you, the children, my son, and I need to have a bit of a talk." Don Alejandro looked at Todd, Allison, Felipe, and Diego sternly. Todd, Allison, and Felipe looked at the ground sheepishly. "When you are rested, all of us will discuss the situation." Felipe led the still bewildered couple to one of the guestrooms.

Don Alejandro sat on one of the sofas. "Now, Diego, children. I would like the entire story and a reason why you never told me in the first place."

"Well..." Todd began and told a selective version of events from three years ago, purposely leaving out any mention of the hidden cave and secret passage or helping Zorro. "The reason we never told you at first is because we were afraid of the Alcalde. When Don Diego and Felipe found out, everything happened so fast and then we left before getting a chance to explain or thank you for your help and, what's the word I am looking for?"

"Hospitality," Allison answered.

"Yeah, that is it. Hospitality."

"I am sorry father. I should have told you. When the children left, I, well, got preoccupied and it just slipped my mind."

"Well, alright. I'm not happy about it, but I will have to live with it. At least I know the truth now." Don Alejandro picked up the laptop computer and asked Allison, "Now, would either you or Todd explain to us what this contraption is."

"I will!" Allison exclaimed. She was the novice hacker of the family. "This is called a computer, in particular, a laptop computer because it is smaller and can sit on your lap. You can take it almost anywhere. Uncle Todd mostly uses it for research and writing but Todd and I have some stuff on it too." She turned it on and began to explain what the device was for as it booted up. Allison showed them how you can type papers or letters, explained how e-mail works, and a bit about the Internet.

"I still don't understand. You can talk to someone on this, uhh, computer?" Diego asked, confused when Allison mentioned AOL and IM-ing.

"Yep. It is called instant messaging or IM for short. You and another person who have the program can have a one-on-one conversation. They and you have to be logged-on, though. That means both people are connected to their server, the company that runs the connections to the Internet. Then, they can talk to each other, well, sort of. You type back and forth to each other. You can do this with as many people as you want, although only one-on-one. If you want to talk to a group of people in one place you go to a chat room. There is also the Internet phone in which you can call someone and actually talk to them. Some people use a camera and talk face to face over the computer. The camera records moving pictures and sends it through the phone lines over the Internet."

"Uh-huh" Diego said, trying to grasp the complexity of computers and the Internet. "What else can this marvel of the future called the Internet do?"

"Actually, you can find almost anything on the Internet. There are some people who never leave the house and do everything on their computer. You can shop, run a business, talk to people, and do research on almost any topic right from your home. Don Diego, you would love it!!" Allison said excitedly. "It's too bad I can't really show you though. Oh, I almost forgot. I can show you this. You can also listen to music!!"

Allison pulled up the MP3 player and went down the list until she found one of her favorite songs from the late 1990's. All of a sudden Crazy by Brittany Spears came blaring out of the small speakers. Allison got up and started performing a complicated jazz dance. When the song was over, the de la Vegas, Todd, and Felipe, who had rejoined them in the drawing room, applauded as she bowed. "Thanks, I learned that in my dance class." Allison then went down the list and picked out a violin concerto by Bach.

"This is much better. I liked the other music but there is nothing like Bach," Don Alejandro stated. For the next hour Todd and Allison played different songs from singers and bands that they liked, Brittany Spears, Matchbox 20, Tori Amos, Madonna, The Barenaked Ladies, Eric Clapton, Lauren Hill, Fiona Apple, Ricky Martin, Rage Against the Machine, Garbage, No Doubt, Kula Shaker, and Cake. They also played swing, jazz, blues, and classical music including Duke Ellington Count Basey, Billie Holiday, Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin from their aunt and uncle's collection of MP3's.

All of a sudden, footsteps were heard in the hall. Ted and Alice entered the room looking much more rested and refreshed. Ted smiled when he saw Todd showing Don Alejandro and Don Diego how to play the Pokemon game and Allison teaching Felipe a line dance from the late 1970's, which he seemed to be catching on quite well. "Allison, what are you teaching that poor boy? I used to do that when I was in high school." Todd and Allison smiled and laughed. "And I thought Disco was dead. That is from a very, well, let's just say an unusual time" he told the de la Vegas.

"Come and sit down. Would you like something to drink? Lemonade, perhaps?" Don Alejandro asked their guests as he stood up and offered his seat to Alice. Don Diego did the same for Ted.

"Yes please" Allison and Todd said simultaneously.

"That would be wonderful, thank you" Alice said appreciatively as she and Ted sat down on the sofa. Allison squeezed in between both of them and gave her aunt a gigantic hug. Todd sat on the floor. Don Alejandro signaled to Felipe who nodded and left the room.

He then continued, "Now before we talk about the events that have happened recently, since there is no danger from the Alcalde, unlike their last adventure here, I think that Todd, Allison, and Amiga" who wagged her tail and yawned, "should go to the pueblo. They have not had a chance to see Padre Benitez or spend time with Victoria." Felipe entered with a heavy silver tray filled with crystal glasses of fresh lemonade. Everyone took a glass and commented on the quality of the refreshing drink. Alejandro turned to Felipe, "Felipe I want you to take Todd and Allison to the pueblo. But first, how about a picnic lunch for the three of you to eat on the way. You should have plenty of time. Also, please pick up the boots that I ordered at the bootmaker's, they should be ready today. We will meet you there later." Felipe smiled, nodded his head and motioned to the children to come with him.

"Later Aunt Alice and Uncle Ted" Todd said as he got up. Unseen by his aunt and uncle, he took the digital camera from the table and put it in his backpack as he left. 'Never know when it might come in handy' he thought.

"Love you. Come on Amiga" Allison said and kissed both of them, grabbed her backpack and followed her brother outside with the dog right behind.

Felipe took them to the stable and then led out two ponies as well as his own pinto. He then asked them, signing slowly, if they knew how to ride. Both said that they did but had never saddled a horse before. Felipe then showed them how to groom a horse properly, where to place the saddle, how to buckle the girth and make sure it is tight enough, and how to get the horse to take the bit and put on a bridle. Felipe went inside to get the picnic Maria had prepared. When he came back out, they all mounted up. Allison put Amiga in her backpack and left the zipper open so the small dog could stick her head out, and they were on their way to the pueblo.

Instead of heading directly towards his chosen picnic site, Felipe took them on a scenic route through the area since the last time they were there Todd and Allison were constantly hiding or on the run from the former Alcalde. Luis Ramon had convinced himself that the two children were spies from the American government and had placed them in his prison. Thankfully, Zorro had rescued them and hid the two of them in the mission church and with the de la Vegas.

As they rode, Todd and Allison told Felipe all about school, as well as other things they were doing, Allison's dance classes, Todd's Aikido lessons, and about what they had been learning in Sunday School at their church. Finally, the three stopped in a shaded area next to a small stream. Felipe and Todd laid out the blanket Maria and included while Allison unpacked the food and tied Amiga to a small sapling. A light breeze cooled them off, for it was a very hot day.

As they ate Felipe told them about the latest exploits of Zorro and himself. He told them about the time he and Victoria were taken as 'volunteers' by a group of pirates in order to carry treasure back to their ship (1). He told the story of the former Alcalde's death at the Devil's Fortress. Felipe also told them about Kinona, the Indian girl Alcalde Ramon tried to make his personal maid who was rescued by Zorro (2). All of three of them laughed when he told them about how the Alcalde was shot in the behind by a jealous brave named Blackfeather who was betrothed to Kinona.

"Is she still at the mission school?" Allison asked him.

*No, she went back to her tribe a while ago. She felt it was time to return in order to help her people*. Felipe replied a bit wistfully and distractedly at the remembrance of a first love and a first kiss in the moonlight.

Shaking himself out of his reverie, he told Todd and Allison about the new Alcalde DeSoto, whom he would exploit the people for his own ambitions to return to Madrid in good favor with the king, and why Zorro was still needed by the people.

Finally all the food had been eaten and the three were on their way to the pueblo. Todd told a bunch of silly jokes he had learned at camp that previous summer. Most Felipe laughed at, however a few made no sense to Felipe because of their references to future events and/or objects. Allison tried her best to explain it all to the slightly confused older teenager.

As they rode, Felipe would completely let go of the reins in order to talk. His pinto kept moving towards the pueblo, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his rider had given him his head. Apparently the horse was quite used to the young man letting go of the reins completely quite often in order to communicate with Don Diego or Don Alejandro as they rode somewhere.

When they entered the front gates of the pueblo, Felipe steered the horses towards the hitching post in front of the tavern. After he dismounted and tied his horse, Felipe helped Allison down like the gentleman he had been trained to be. As she dismounted, Allison noticed a few of the girls who lived in the pueblo or at nearby farms were staring at the handsome young man as he assisted her. Felipe also noticed them and he smiled and nodded politely to the girls as they began to giggle and hurry off towards the mission. They jealously watched as he then offered Allison his arm in escort and Todd offered his on her other side.

Upon entering, Victoria made a beeline towards the three with a huge smile on her face. "Hola Felipe, Todd, Allison!!" She gave the two children a big hug. "I was hoping you would come by. I told the Padre that you were here and he is very anxious to see you both. But before you go to the mission, please sit down and have something to drink." She led the three over to a table near the bar. "How about some lemonade?" To this question she received three enthusiastic yes's' and went to get a pitcher of the refreshing drink.

When she returned with the lemonade and clay cups she sat down with the three of them to chat a bit. They asked her questions about what has happened in her life and in the pueblo over the last three years.

The four of them talked for about a half an hour when suddenly Felipe banged his fist on the table, startling many of the people in the tavern. Todd, Allison, and Victoria looked at Felipe quizzically. *I forgot about Don Alejandro's boots. I will be back in a minute* he signed, with an apologetic look on his face as if saying sorry for scaring everyone, and then hurried out of the tavern.

"Now, Señor, why have you come and interrupted my siesta so abruptly, and this better be good" the Alcalde said menacingly to the man that stood before him. He was dressed as a gentleman, wearing a black frock coat, gray brocade vest, gray breeches, black riding boots, a crisp white shirt, and a plum colored cravat around his neck. An expensive sword was at his side. He was clean-shaven and his close-cropped medium brown hair was combed neatly and slicked back with oil. His face was handsome, the only flaw being a scar on his left cheek. However despite his handsome outward appearance, the look in his eyes was cruel.

The stranger casually sat down in one of the chairs and said, "I am Carlos Moreno. I believe we have had a series of correspondences concerning a very important agreement."

The Alcalde became noticeably uncomfortable and nervous as Moreno introduced himself. "Señor, yes. Welcome to Pueblo de Los Angeles. Would you like a drink?" He moved towards the table sitting under the window in order to pour a glass of wine from the crystal decanter. "Now, Señor Moreno," He handed the man a crystal glass. "Why have you graced my office with your presence? The agreement was you would come when the delivery was complete."

"Why I am here now is of no real concern to you. The ship will be here two days earlier than was expected, that is all you need know at this point and time in our agreement, Alcalde." He held out the glass for another drink, which DeSoto filled immediately. Moreno drank it all in one swallow and the glass was filled once more, and then again. "You have been informed of what is expected of you, so do your job, and you will be rewarded handsomely for it." Moreno placed the empty glass on the desk, stood, and headed for the door.

"One more thing before I go, I have changed my mind on one thing. I expect you to be present at the delivery." Moreno then left DeSoto's office abruptly, slamming the door behind him.

DeSoto was taken aback by the man's sudden anger towards him but said nothing. Although his face was not familiar in the territory, the name Carlos Moreno was infamous throughout all of California. DeSoto had many reasons to fear this man and yet, much wealth to gain by forming this bargain. Enough money to return to Spain and live a life of wealth and power, with or without a commendation from the King. This incentive was enough to assuage all fears of the wanted man and enter into this bargain with no thought to duty as Alcalde. The reward on his head was not even half the amount DeSoto would receive at the end of this deal.

"MENDOZA!!!!!!!!!!! Get in here!!"

"Sí mi Alcalde" the distraught sergeant ran into the office from his post outside and stood at attention. DeSoto rarely yelled like that, unlike his predecessor, Luis Ramon.

"We are going to go on patrol again. Because of finding those children and taking them back to the pueblo our patrol was incomplete. I want to make another sweep of that area. Is that understood?"

"Completely mi Alcalde. Right away." Mendoza exited the office quickly, not wanting to incur the wrath of DeSoto's black mood. He was puzzled as to why the Alcalde would want to do a security patrol around the de la Vega rancho, especially a second time. When they had found the Bennett children the lancers had finished a thorough sweep of the area. As he strode towards the barracks and the stables, Sergeant Mendoza put those thoughts aside. It was not his place to question the Alcalde on such a matter. Mendoza approached one of his lancers and told him a bit wearily, "Corporal Sepulveda, ready the men. We are going back out on patrol."

Felipe was heading back towards Victoria's Tavern with the boots for Don Alejandro in a box. As passed the Alclade's office on his way, he heard the door slam extremely loudly, but from years of conditioning and practice, he did not turn or make any acknowledgment of having heard the noise that startled many others in the pueblo. He kept walking when all of a sudden something ran into him and he was knocked flat on the ground on his back. After getting his bearings, Felipe looked up into the steely gray eyes of a stranger.

"Watch where you are going, you little idiot!!" The strange man glared at him and kept walking towards the Tavern. As the man moved past him, Felipe noticed the scar on his face. He waited for the man to enter the tavern before heading back there himself, and on the way checking to make sure that Don Alejandro's boots did not get dirty or ruined from the fall.

When Felipe re-entered the tavern, he noticed the man had sat at a more isolated table near the back. Señorita Victoria was bringing him a glass and a pitcher of wine. She did not look particularly happy.

"Did you get them?" Todd asked. Felipe looked at him quizzically, as he had been absorbed with watching the stranger down the first glass of wine in one gulp. "Did you get Don Alejandro's boots?" Todd repeated. Felipe nodded and opened the box for both Todd and Allison to see. At the same time, he kept an eye on the man with the scar who was slowly becoming more and more drunk with every glass of wine he downed.

An extremely agitated qVictoria sat down next to Felipe. "Uch!! For a gentleman, that man has no manners whatsoever!! If he orders me around like that one more time, I am going to give him a piece of my mind as he is escorted to the door. I don't care if he pays double for that room he rented for tonight."

*What is his name?* Felipe asked.

"I believe Señor Fernando Palomarez is what he wrote in my registry book. Why do you ask?" Felipe shrugged and told the three about what occurred outside a few minutes before. Felipe, Victoria, Todd, and Allison talked for a while longer with Victoria getting up every so often to check on her customers and to see how her dinner was coming along in the kitchen. Felipe kept his eye on the stranger downing one glass after another, and all four were on the lookout for Don Alejandro, Don Diego, and the children's aunt and uncle.

They were in a deep conversation about Todd's Aikido lessons when the stranger came up to their table completely drunk, and stood in front of a wary Felipe. All of a sudden, he grabbed the young man by the front of his shirt and pulled him up from the bench he was sitting on, almost knocking their table over. Felipe, completely startled, stared into the man's eyes, and at that moment had no idea what to do. He could smell the alcohol on the Moreno's breath. All of a sudden he was thrown down to the floor. "So, the clumsy fool decided to follow me here" Moreno slurred. Felipe tried to get up but the larger man pushed him back down to the ground. "That's right, you imbecile. Stay down there where you belong." His words were becoming dangerously quiet.

Victoria grabbed Allison and Todd and pulled them out of the way by the door. "Don't move" she commanded sternly. She then approached Moreno bravely and calmly. "Señor Palomarez or whatever your name is, I will not allow such behavior in my tavern. Get your things and please leave IMMEDIATELY."

"How dare you speak to me in this way woman!!" Mereno slapped her hard the on the cheek. There was a collective gasp from all the people in the tavern.

Felipe was completely furious! He got up, approached the stranger and punched him in the face so hard that Moreno was forced back a few steps, and fell hard onto a bench, dazed. Keeping his guard up he went to the Señorita to see if she was okay. "I am fine Felipe, thank you. But please let me handle this." He shook his head, placed his hands on his chest and then his fists in the air. *This is my fight.*

"Thank you, but no. This man is dangerous, Felipe. You are no match for him." She placed her hands on his shoulders as he made the same gestures. "I can't allow you to get yourself hurt like this!"

Felipe had turned away from Moreno in order to look at Victoria's face, letting his guard down, and did not notice the larger man getting up and moving towards him. *I have to take care of this myself. It was my problem from the beginning and...* All of a sudden Moreno grabbed him, spun him around, and held Felipe by his shirt at arm's length, ready to hit him in the face.

"Have nothing to say, little imbecile? Well, I will teach you a lesson, and when I am done, you will be crying out for mercy!!" Felipe did not move, held his head up, and tried not to show his fear. That would only encourage this stranger more and he did not want to get Victoria more involved in the situation, or the children. This stranger had seen Todd and Allison with him and in the man's drunken state, he was capable of anything.

Standing by the door, Todd and Allison watched anxiously as the events that were unfolding before them. "I have to do something," Todd whispered to his sister.

"Todd, that man is like, ten times taller than you. He will kick you butt in a second," Allison said, trying to dissuade her brother from doing something really stupid and dangerous. But he was not listening. "Todd, Todd! What are you doing?!?" she whispered loudly.

Todd walked to where Moreno was standing, holding Felipe by the front of his shirt. 'What in the world am I doing? I must be crazy,' he thought. 'But I have to help Felipe. He helped us before and I have to do something for him.' Todd approached the drunken man, and tapped him on the shoulder.

Moreno turned his head to find a twelve or thirteen year old boy looking up at him menacingly. "What do you want, little boy?" Felipe looked at Todd and shook his head, his eyes showing his fear for the boy's safety.

"Let him go," Todd said determinedly. He stood next to Moreno and Felipe in ready fighting stance.

Moreno took one look at Todd and started to laugh, and in his drunken state it was really almost a giggle. "It seems that I am going to have to teach two stupid boys a lesson today about not getting in my way." All of a sudden, Amiga, still in Allison's backpack, began to bark. With Moreno's attention on Todd and the noise the dog was making, Felipe took advantage of the situation. Slowly, he hooked his foot behind Moreno's ankle. Then, with a swift jerk of his leg, he tripped the man, sending him to the floor. At the same time, Victoria grabbed Todd and pulled him out of the way.

Seeing the stranger on the floor, the people in the tavern began to laugh, including Allison who put her hand over her mouth, trying hard not to totally crack up. Felipe then took a sword that was belted at the side of one of the caballeros, from its sheath and held it at Moreno's throat, a sly smile on his face.

Victoria came up next to Felipe and put her arm on his shoulder. "All you alright?" He nodded and pointed at her, while keeping an eye on the man on the floor. "Yes, I am fine." She turned to the boy, still poised for a fight. "Todd, you should not have done that. You could have gotten hurt. But I also thank you." She gave the boy a hug.

"Todd! Have you gone completely nuts!?! He would have kicked your butt. But that was really cool." Allison hugged her brother. "So Felipe, what are you going to do with him?" He still had that sly grin on his face. Looking at Moreno still on the floor, he pointed at him and then at the door. Moreno sneered and Felipe pressed the blade to his throat. The smile disappeared, replaced with anger, and he pointed to the door more forcefully.

"Yes, leave Señor Palomarez. Or I will be forced to call the garrison." Victoria stated.

Moreno stood up, the sword still at his throat. He backed up slowly towards the door, his left eye already becoming bruised where Felipe had hit him. Felipe followed to make sure the man did not try to draw his own weapon that hung at the man's side as he exited the room. When he had left, Felipe suddenly grabbed onto the bar to steady himself. His muscles had been so taut and his adrenaline had been pumping so much that the sudden stress relief made him a bit unsteady.

"You had better sit down." Victoria told him and he nodded, sitting on a bench. He put the sword on the table nodding his thanks to the caballero that he borrowed it from. Felipe then ran his hands through his hair and looked at Todd. *You should not have done that. You could have been hurt! Thank you, though.* He picked up Amiga from the bag and petted her in thanks as well.

Trying to justify himself, Todd replied, "I had to do something. I couldn't just let that jerk..."

"What in the world is going on here?" Don Alejandro asked as he, Don Diego, and the Bennetts walked into the tavern. "I just saw a very angry man walk out of your tavern, Señorita, with his hand over his eye as if he was hit. Care to enlighten us?"

"Certainly," Victoria answered and relayed the entire story of the recent events to the newcomers. "Both Felipe and Todd were extremely brave." She smiled proudly at the young man who just sat, feeling exhausted from the mental and physical strain of the encounter and the boy standing beside his sister.

"That you were. Well done," Don Diego said as he sat, putting his hand on Felipe's shoulder, who looked at him and gave Diego a small smile.

"Thank goodness you two are alright." Alice told her niece and nephew, hugging both. She let them go and turned to Victoria, "Thank you for protecting my niece and nephew."

"You are most welcome" she said, looking at the Bennetts' strange clothing. "You must be their aunt and uncle we have heard about. Welcome to Los Angeles and to my Tavern. I am Victoria Escalante, the owner." As they all went to sit at a larger table and Victoria got some fresh orange juice, Don Diego and Don Alejandro made the proper introductions.

Carlos Moreno stormed through the pueblo, furious. How is it that a boy was able to trounce him, and humiliate him? And not just any boy, a boy who could not speak, and from what he noticed about the way he acted when others spoke to him and around him, he was probably deaf as well. Felipe, he remembered, was the name that the woman called him. Then there was that younger boy, an Americano. What a little upstart he was.

He had to set them aside for the moment, however. He had more important matters to think and worry about now, particularly, the Alcalde of this pueblo. Then he could deal with the two boys as he wished. Suddenly a sly and cruel smile spread across his face. The infamous Carlos Moreno would have his revenge, that they could be sure of.

1. Episode "Kidnapped"
2. Episode "Rites of Passage")

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