"Okay, we can stop here," Jason said, speaking into the tiny microphone that was attached to his vest. An ear piece was attached to each of the vests as well, and at his words, Jason's Suburban and the five behind him stopped on the dirt road.
All of the men exited their respective vans and gathered in wait of Jason. When Jason arrived, they moved into a tight circle and listened intently to his words.
"We're approximately one mile from the entrance to the catacombs," Jason began.
"The catacombs? This is where they are?" Nikolas asked in disbelief. He and Dawn had been right there only hours before. He found it hard to believe that a place that brought him so much peace was the same place that had given Tommy so much hell.
"Not exactly," Justus replied. "The catacombs are deep and extend deep within the earth's surface."
"How do you know this?" Lucky asked. He had spent some time in the catacombs, too and he was just as perplexed about the secrets it held as Nikolas was.
"We've seen the city's blueprints. The catacombs are vast and extensive. Years ago, they contained minerals and precious stones but were closed off when a horrible explosion sealed off a majority of it. Since then, no one has tried to mine it," Justus said.
"No one that you were aware of," Tommy added quietly unable to keep the venom from his voice.
Justus nodded at Tommy's softly spoken words. He couldn’t raise his eyes to meet Tommy's. He didn't want to see the hatred he knew he would find there. Instead, he looked towards Jason.
"This area will be our base. In twenty minutes, Marco will disengage the generator. He will not go inside with the rest of us. With the aid of Lonnie's man, Roberto, he will watchdog the area. If anything goes wrong, you are to come back here and wait. Am I understood?" Jason asked.
After each of the men nodded, Jason continued. "We will be divided into teams of two. You must not, under circumstances, leave your partner. These tunnels are confusing and we need each of you. No one can play solo super-hero. This is a team effort," Jason said. He paused as he waited for his words to sink in.
"The teams are as follows: Bruce and Cliff; Rick and Memo; Vinnie and Don; Terry and Sam; Johnny and Frank; Justus and Lonnie; Reynaldo and Max; Nikolas and Lucky; and Tommy and myself. Look at the map Johnny just gave you. You will see red pen marks. These pen marks are your designated assignments. You are to go these areas and these areas alone. No blind searches. Am I understood?" Jason asked, again.
"Yes, Jason, you are," Lucky replied. For some reason, he felt Jason was speaking to him. Maybe it was because of the Spencers' reluctance to follow rules. This was one time when Lucky was more than willing to follow the guidance of someone else.
"Good. Tommy marked those areas because he knows that people are there. You are to help as many as you can. We want to move quickly. If all goes well, we should be in and out of there in less than two hours. The microphones are sensitive, so if you need to communicate, a whisper can be heard. Follow the rules of the plan. When your sector is clear, announce it. Get the people you have with you out of there. Bring them to Marco and be on stand-by just in case. However, do not and I repeat do not go back in unless you are requested to do so. Understand?" Jason asked.
The men nodded and voiced their acceptance of Jason's rules. They were about to move into position when Jason stopped them with a raised hand. The men moved back into a circle and following Jason's lead, they bowed their heads for a quick silent prayer.
"Amen," Jason said. "Put your goggles on and be aware of everything around you. The time has come."
The men lined up in twos behind Jason and Tommy. As their one mile walk to the catacombs began, the men were silent. Their minds were on their tasks at hand. No one wanted to be casualty. They knew that to some degree, they were going in blind, but they were confident in their ability to see in the dark and operate on gut instinct if need be. For some of the men, this was the first time they were doing something for the good of someone else and not just for monetary gain. They were surprised at how good it felt.
"This is it, Cassadine. Are you ready?" Lucky asked, wiping the bead of sweat that covered his upper lip.
"As ready as you are, Spencer," Nikolas replied. "Are you ready to cover me if need be? Will you be able to?"
"I told Tommy I would, didn't I?" Lucky replied. "Don't worry. Your ass will be covered. Don't forget to cover mine."
"No problem," Nikolas said.
"Not that I'll need you to," Lucky added.
Nikolas shook his head and then laughed softly at Lucky's words. Some things would never change, Nikolas decided.
"Yeah?" Jason said, a little surprised to hear Tommy say anything. He seemed to be like him in regards to speaking only when necessary. Jason wondered what could he possibly have to say now.
"Thanks" Tommy said. He looked briefly at Jason and then he turned his eyes toward the land before them.
Jason nodded. Inside, he knew that he should be thanking Tommy. With Tommy's help, soon the woman who held the key to his heart would be back in his life again. This time, he promised himself, he would do everything within his power to keep her there.
As they neared the entrance to the catacombs, the men moved into position. The teams of two stood in line, one after the other. At Jason's signal, Marco came towards Jason.
"Remember what I told you," Jason whispered to Marco so that only Marco could hear.
"Of course, boss," Marco nodded.
"The generator," Jason said.
As Marco moved to switch off the generator, each of the men took a deep breath. They knew that the time had come and there could be no turning back.