After a festival-like ritual, including a large feast, an attempt to steal the staff by a certain gang leader, the anti-climactic discovery of the missing part of the staff (under a rock that was moved to make way for a bonfire), and a one-hundred one year old man moving with the grace of a ninja and honour of a samurai, Leslie, Mike and the two pilots were flown by helicopter to a city, where Mike had another jet waiting to take them home.
As Leslie finally came into her driveway, a UPS truck pulled up to her mailbox. After signing, a medium sized box is placed in her hands, and they drive away. Noticing the sender's address is up in Connecticut, she smiles to herself and heads inside. Shaking the box a bit, she doesn’t hear what she had expected, and neither does she smell it. She was really looking forward to her grandmother’s made-from-scratch pastries. A sudden chill runs down her spine, and time seems to slow down. Why do I feel like something terrible is about to happen, she wonders, just before her phone snaps her out of it. “Hello, Young residence.”
“Hello dear, have you gotten my parcel?”
“Hey Gram, yeah, I just got it. How are you?”
“Oh, I’m alright. I just wish your grandfather would get away from the blasted TV to fix my chair, which he promised to do three months ago!”
“Oh, really… Is it still that same show?”
“Same episode! I made the mistake of taping it, and he just watches it over and over. Oh, but he’s still such a sweetheart.”
“Well, I don’t think I need to hear about any of that.”
“Oh, pish. What’s wrong with a little lovin’? Hmm?”
“It’s just the fact that my grandmother wants to talk about her sex life. I’d like to be able to sleep tonight.”
“Oh, pish. Well, enjoy yourself dearie. I know how much you’ve been looking forward to my care package.”
At this point, something clicks. You need to make sure though. “Yeah, but if you keep sending me these baked goods, I’m gonna get fat.”
“Oh, pish. Just do your workouts and I’m sure you’ll burn off the carbohydrates.”
“That’s CALORIES Gram.”
“Isn’t that what I said?”
“No, you said… Oh, never mind. Love you! See you for the holidays!”
“I love you too dear.”
… It’s been almost 10 years since your father came up with that duress phrase, and now it’s been put into use. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice someone in your house, but recognize him as you are about to grab your gun. “I-”
“Our original mission will be postponed,” the man with the V-shaped scar says. “You should open the package.”
You do so and find an old tome with writing you barely recognize. ~Historia Hominis~ is on the front, and the book is rather plain besides. But the fact that your grandmother lied about what she sent you and that your friendly neighborhood ninja/messenger seemed to know about it tells you it is more important than it seems. “So, what do I need to do then?”
“I’ll take the book. You are to capture those who have your grandparents under duress. And if you fail and get captured, you will be terminated if you so much as think of telling them about me or our employers. Capture them alive, if you can.” And with that, The Messenger disappears yet again. A small piece of paper is on the counter, along with a set of keys and fake ID.
The paper reads:
A car is waiting at the Denny’s parking lot. Show the ID. Everything you should need is in the car.
If anyone can guess the duress phrase, I’ll give a hint.