The Care Bears
The Confidence Secret
Shreeky and Beastly slowly crawled through the thickets of the Forest of Feelings, searching for victims to attack. Usually the two were quite clumsy and did not offer an extremely real danger to their victims, being rare the occasions when the two villains tried to hurt someone really. Most of the time, the two just tied their prisoners and took them to castle of No Heart.
And that was the case that day, again, since they both had no concrete plans to do away with the bears, only to capture them and take them to the castle, where No Heart would take care of everything. All that was left was to catch someone, so the two of them were hidden near a trail.
- Are you sure this will work, Shreeky? - Beastly asked in a trembling voice.
- Of course it will! Let's take a bear and take it to the castle - the girl replied with a wicked smile - Look! Here comes our victim.
At that moment, the Forest Ranger Jaguar appeared on the way. A mossy green feline with dark brown spots, and whose symbol on the belly was a forest with a rainbow overhead and a bird silhouette between the two. Forest was shy and introverted, and since he was a teenager he lived alone in the Forest of Feelings, almost without contact with the other bears and cousins. Not that he did not like his company, but he preferred to be alone and take care of that magical place to keep someone from destroying him.
- He is the perfect victim - continued the girl, as the cat approached on the way - Alone, friendless, no one will notice your lack...
- But he's a Care Cousin; I thought we were going to catch a bear - Beastly said.
- Shut up! - Shreeky demanded - Now c'mon, come on!
And jumping from where they stood they stood in front of the jaguar, which stopped at the sight of them on the way.
Forest Ranger showed no fear, no joy, no feeling at all, just stood staring at the two villains in front of him.
- Hello, little friend - began the girl approaching with her arms raised to grab the cat - How about taking a walk?
- I don't feel like taking walks now - he said with a wicked grin - Even if it were a cruise on the high seas, I'd give up...
- Ah, but you will come anyway - said Beastly, also approaching.
- If I were you, I would not do that - Forest Ranger remarked quietly - Who plays with fire, ends up burning. And you don't know me well enough to be able to...
- Pick it! - shouted Shreeky, and at once she and her companion leapt toward the care bear cousin.
Without giving up his sly grin, Forest Ranger just jumped back and saw his antagonists falling of chin in the floor. At this, the jaguar began to laugh and ran out into the woods, but still keeping itself visible to its enemies.
- What are you waiting for? Let's go after him! - cried the girl, rising angrily.
Shreeky and Beastly ran as fast as they could behind Forest Ranger, but the jaguar knew how to get around the high bush, and knew where he was stepping. So, after gaining some distance, he looked back and provoked his pursuers, before disappearing into the thickets of a tree.
The pair of villains, seeing this, ran in the same direction, and at the exact moment they crossed the bush, they fell into a small ravine that was going to hit the river. Unbalanced, they fell straight into the water, while the care cousin, who only remained hidden in the thickets, watched everything and laughed amusingly.
- I did not say? - he asked, laughing and pulling away.
The two villains were drenched, and the girl stormed out of the water, screaming with rage that almost deafened Beastly.
- That does not stay that way! He pays me! - she cried, and turning to the assistant still in the water, shouted - And what are you still doing there? Let's go!
They both started to walk until they found a passage that took them into the forest again, but as soon as they got there, and hidden by the bushes, they found something that pleased them very much.
- Look! It's our lucky day - Shreeky said, rubbing his hands together.
Here was the Gentle Heart Lamb, a mint green lamb with a tuft of hair on its head, whose tummy symbol was a pink heart embroidered like a pillow. The young lamb, very shy and kind, also had a big soft heart, always helping others, even if they were bad people. She was there, engaged in picking wildflowers and gathering them in a basket, which she would surely use to beautify her home on the border between Care-a-Lot and the Forest of Feelings. And being distracted, it was a perfect target.
- Shall we grab her? - asked Beastly.
- No, let's do it differently. Pretend you have a stomach ache, or something, and shout loudly for her to come and help you while I hide behind here - Shreeky said, as she stood behind a large tree next, pulling a rope which she always carried at the waist.
Gentle Heart was picking flowers absentmindedly, thinking of going back to her little house and making lunch. Especially since she was going to Care-a-Lot later to see if there was any assignment for her that day, despite being so shy that they almost never delegated solitary missions to her. That was when a cry of pain interrupted her thoughts. Lifting his head, the sheep looked around, and noticed that someone was groaning behind some bushes nearby. Being generous as she was, she hurried over to see who was screaming.
- What is going on? - she asked in her noisy voice, and when she came face to face with Beastly, she stopped in surprise - Beastly? What's wrong with you?
- It hurts, it hurts! - he shouted, rolling to the floor.
- Tell me what you're feeling and what hurts so I can help you - Gentle said, coming closer.
- Ah! Really hurts!
- Really hurts where?
And instantly Shreeky stepped out from behind the tree, his back to where the sheep was, and grabbed her with the rope.
- It hurts here, my dear! - cried the girl with malicious happiness.
- Shreeky?!? - asked the sheep, confused - What is this? Let me go!
- Not so early, little lamb - the girl said, tightly tying Gentle's arms, beside her hands and feet - Now we're going to take a little walk.
Beastly got up and stared with her face stupid and a smile on her lips.
- What did you think of my interpretation? - asked the bat pig - Can I get an Oscar of better actor?"
- Stop blabbing and help me carry our prisoner - Shreeky said nervously.
- No! Help! Help me please! Help! - cried Gentle Heart, trying to break free.
- No use shouting, my Gentle dear - said Shreeky maliciously - No one will hear you, no one can help you from miles away.
- Does that include me?
The two villains and the hostage raised their heads and gave of face with Forest Ranger, who was gritting his teeth with rage.
- I did not say it was for you two to get out of here because you do not know who you're dealing with? - he asked dryly, taking a step forward.
Beastly and Shreeky flinched in fear as the bat pig jumped on the young accomplice's lap.
- WW-We do not... We don't... - stammered both, slowly moving away.
Forest Ranger did not wait any longer, and threw his stare at them. The stare was warm, almost liquid, bringing good influences to the receiver. And this was not the will of Shreeky and Beastly, who saw the light coming towards them, and ran away like mad to escape. The jaguar did not stop releasing its stare, so that it reached as far as possible, being that Beastly had his back lightly touched by the wave of love, producing as a shock in the villain and making him run even more up to his helicopter bike. The two villains jumped into the machine, and in the blink of an eye the bat pig took off with its flying contraption, escaping Forest Ranger's attack.
But he no longer maintained his stare, had stopped and only watched the escape of the two villains, laughing along with Gentle Heart, whom he was already releasing.
- Thank you, Forest Ranger - said the grateful lamb.
- There is no way, Gentle heart - the jaguar replied with a smile - They'll not bother anyone else today.
- This is true. Well... Do you want to have lunch with me? It's the least I can offer...
- I didn't help you for rewards, but I thank you for your offer. Anything, you just call me and I'll put those two back to run, and this time with a bunch of bees. Good morning, Gentle - the jaguar concluded amiably, moving away with a wave of his hand.
- Good morning for you, too - agreed the sheep, picking up her basket of flowers and walking home, smiling and happy.
Frank yawned and glanced at his watch. It had been more than three hours now that he was hiding among the bushes in the square in front of Calvin's house, and nothing happened. I was already getting sleepy. But he did not want to give up. If there was a chance that he would find the one he sought most of his life, that was the moment.
Except he was the only one who knew about Calvin's story and what it all meant to the young businessman. If it had occurred what the old man believed to have happened the previous day in that house, or those he was looking for were dead, or had escaped but given up on the mission, or had escaped and would return later. And Frank knew their genius was for that last alternative.
Again the old man looked at his watch and tapped his impatient hand on the floor.
- Damn it... - he mumbled, but then he smiled and thought to himself that his patience would surely be rewarded sooner or later. With that, his thoughts went to Jason. Was everything going well with him?
The school bell rang punctually at noon, being loud enough to be heard even from the street, and as soon as the school inspector opened the gate, a flood of children and preteens rushed out into the street, happy to have finished another day of school.
But Hector was not happy. Even though it was not a sports day, his old friends had once again refused to stay with him or even talk. It hurt the boy very much, who was head down and walked slowly on the way out, while the others ran past him.
On top of all that, the scene between his father, Champ and Confidence the day before still pounded in his head, especially when his father came to him at night and told him that the Care Bears were bad, untrustworthy, who at the most difficult time abandoned their "friends" to save themselves. The boy did not believe that much, but he had to swear to his father that he would not talk to any bear any more.
He was so distracted that he did not even realize that he was one of the last to leave school. Slowly he crossed the street and moved on across the square, always with a low head and sad countenance. That's when he heard someone call him by name. As he turned around, he saw Champ and Confidence, both running to him and smiling. But the boy turned his head sadly and kept walking.
- Hey, wait a while, sports fan! - said Champ, putting himself in front of the boy - Is that all right with you?
Hector did not answer, just kept his head down.
- What's it? - Confidence asked with concern - Did your father do something bad for you?
- You can talk to us, we'll understand - said the sportsman.
The boy looked at them sadly.
- My father said that you are not trustworthy and made me promise that I would not talk to you any more - he said in a choked voice.
- He what?!? - asked the two athletes, shocked.
- But you're my friends, and I do not want to stop talking to you - the boy continued sadly - But he's my father, too, and...
- Hector, we would never hurt anyone, we just do good things - Champ said quickly - I don't know why your father hates us so much, and there's no reason for it.
- You're a good boy, Hector - Confidence went on - You can talk to us and obey your father at the same time. It's enough that he does not know we're meeting yet.
It was Champ's turn to be amazed at the words of the fox. Again she would incite a lie, something the bear had never done before, and even that day she would urge him a second time to do so.
- But I would be lying to my father - said the boy as if echoing Champ's thoughts.
- No, you're just omitting some information - the fox explained - There's no problem with that.
- Of course this is a problem, Confidence! - exclaimed the bear indignantly at that - We would all be in a false position, which is against our principles. If from where you came this is common, in Care-a-Lot is not.
- Care-a-Lot? - Hector asked curiously - What is it?
- That's where we live. It is above the clouds, there in the sky, and it is a wonderful place, made of clouds, rainbows, stars, toys... It's our paradise, it has everything we need to live and help humans.
- I wanted to know this place... Can you take me there one day?
- Right now if you want. But what shall we tell your father?
- I don't want to disrespect him, but what he did to you is not fair either. He doesn't even know them to treat them this way and forbid me from being friends with you. And I want to have you as my friends. At least you're the ones who did not make me sad today...
- You had another bad day at school, did not you? - Confidence asked in a sad voice, as she had also been annoyed by what Champ had said to her - Tomorrow we will talk to your friends to give him another chance as captain of the football team.
- I thank you very much for that - agreed the boy, smiling for the first time - I'm sure they would like to meet you. And to hear them too. You guys are really cool. But what about Care-a-Lot?
Hector had asked this question maliciously, practically begging for your specials friends to take him to meet that magical place. Champ took a deep breath, resigned, and with a smile, has given rise a cloud car with his “Stare”.
- Then get in the car, a sports fan - said the bear as the three of them got in - The faster we travel, the faster we return, and your father will not find out where you've been. Well, I wanted to know why he reacted that way, not even seeing us.
- Surely there's a mystery - said Confidence, smiling - I love mysteries, mostly solving them.
Champ looked at his friend at his side and Hector in the back seat, and with a smile he set off with the car cloud in the air. The boy screamed in surprise, since he had never flown like this before, but was delighted to see the ground moving away quickly. In seconds, he could see the whole city, his house, the railroad, the nearby roads, the neighboring towns, the plantations and the forests, all diminishing as they rose more and more.
- Wow! That's very cool! - he exclaimed, looking at the landscape and feeling the wind in his face - It's as if we're flying!
- But we're flying! - Champ replied cheerfully - We can do whatever we want here.
And saying this he asked everyone to hold on, giving several loops with the cloud car, various pirouettes, and at one point paired with a small aircraft that did not notice the presence of the strange object flying at his side.
The three smiled as they had never done before, amusing themselves on that long flight that cut the heavens toward Care-a-Lot. Using the Stare, Champ made hearts to cross with the car cloud, and on the pirouettes also made hearts with the colored smoke of the vehicle. With the radio on, the three of them listened to music from a radio station on the ground, and sang in a lively voice. It was when they passed the portal of reality, which shared the world of humans and the Kingdom of Caring, and that only the bears could feel its presence. They were already in the clouds, and several little stars were following the car, saluting Hector who was excited with everything he saw, letting out exclamations of surprise and happiness.
Finally appeared Care-a-Lot, with its houses and paths of rainbows. Champ landed the cloud car near the observatory, where were Funshine Bear and Wish Bear. The first was yellow and had a smiling sun as a symbol, and the second was sea green with a shooting star as a symbol. Both were guarding the land to make sure no one would do anything bad, and to help anyone who needed it.
It was Wish Bear who saw the cloud car stopped and its three occupants leave.
- Hello Champ - she said, approaching, a big smile on her face - Hello Confidence. Who is your new friend?
- This is the sportsman Hector - Champ said, pulling the boy closer to him - He wanted to know where we live. Hector, this is Wish Bear.
- Ah! Nice to meet you, Hector - the bear said, giving the boy a hug.
- It's my pleasure - he said, still surprised and with the effects of the trip - Wow! This is a cool place to live...
- That's because you did not see anything - Funshine said, coming down from where she was to greet the group - I'm Funshine Bear, and when you need someone to shine you can call me.
- Funshine loves to tell jokes - said Champ softly - She and Playful Heart Monkey are two who make jokes all the time.
- Well, life is meant to be fun, otherwise it would not be funny - replied the female bear - But if you really want to meet the Kingdom of Caring and Care-a-Lot, make sure Champ is going to show you everything, Including the large collection of bodybuilding equipment that he possesses...
- At least he's a better guide than I, since I still lose myself to go to the Forest of Feelings - Confidence mused, looking at the two female bears, who smiled at the fox encouragingly.
- Well, let's go to Hall of Hearts then - said Champ - And you?
- Oh, we have to stay here, or we would go with you - Wish Bear replied - But it was a pleasure to meet you, Hector.
- Yes, it was a great pleasure - Funshine agreed - And don't forget to use an umbrella when you're near of Grumpy Bear.
- Because? - sked the boy.
- Because whenever you're near him, it rains.
Everyone laughed at that, even though the boy did not quite understand. As the two female bears returned to their posts, Champ explained to Hector who was Grumpy, and along with Confidence, the three followed to the Hall of Hearts.
This was where the feasts and get-togethers of the bears and cousins took place, and where all the most important facts usually occurred. It had already served as a shelter, information center, ballroom, meeting room, kitchen, pantry, factory, playroom, and everything else they needed. At that time, there were Harmony Bear, Aqua Bear, Lonesomeheart Bear, Amigo Bear and Cozy Heart Penguin working on cleaning the place.
- Well, Hector, this is where we do most of our group activities - Champ explained, entering the room - We call it the Hall of Hearts because it's here that we decide a lot about how to help humans. Besides having the shape of a heart and be our place for parties...
- And you can believe that the parties here are very nice - commented Confident - And that's because I do not like very much of parties...
- Oh, I already realized that - said the boy, laughing - And I've noticed that you do not like hugs like the rest of the bears and cousins.
- Let's just say Confidence is different from us, but she's learning how to live the same way as the rest, and she's changing - Champ replied, laughing - Now, if you want someone who gives you a big hug, just look for Aqua Bear. He does love to embrace others.
- And not drop it after he hugs - the fennec pondered with a giggle.
Leaving the Hall of Hearts, the trio walked through the rainbow streets, past the houses of the bears, all beautiful and cheerful, with doors and windows in the shape of a heart. Well-manicured gardens and some trees were also there, which surprised Hector more and more, who knew he was on a cloud and thought that it would be impossible to have trees and houses there. But the Kingdom of Caring was special, a place of eternal peace.
- But only until the time when No Heart, her niece Shreeky and her assistant Beastly decide to appear - the bear said slowly - Then the peace ends for a while.
- Who are they? - Hector asked.
- They are our enemies, they do not support care and love, and No Heart wants to dominate the world and make it a sad place. So us, bears and cousins, went into action to stop this, using our "Care Bear Stare".
- That symbol you have in your belly, is not it? But how can he help you to deal with evil?
- Our "Care Bear Stare" is like a magical look of our soul. When we have to react to something bad or that threatens us, we focus and leave from within us a great flow of love, in the form of a warm and almost liquid ray, which, upon reaching the target, causes evil to disappear or to move away from it.
- Wow! This is amazing!
- I'd rather use my karate punches - said Confidence, smiling - They're a lot easier to deal with. Not to mention I still do not know how to use Care Bear Stare.
- Do you not know? Why do not you know how to use it? - asked the boy, surprised.
- I didn't grow up here, Hector, but on earth, until my brother died a few months ago. I had heard that there were others like me, and I decided to look for them. That way I arrived here, knowing almost nothing about the lifestyle that leads here, not knowing how to drive cloud cars, not knowing how to use the Stare... I just know how to use my karate punches and try to be friends with everyone.
- And Confidence is struggling for it - Champ added, though she knew it was all a lie - As for the Stare, she just does not learn to use it because she does not want to.
- What do you mean "because I do not want to"? You never have time to teach me...
- Oh, so the problem is anyone never having the time? Ok, how about now?
- Now?!? - asked the fennec fox in surprise - Ah... Well... All right. I want to see if you're a good teacher. So I include this when Braveheart, Trueheart, Noble Heart, and Tenderheart ask me how you're doing.
- And I? Can I watch it? - asked Hector.
- Of course, come - said Champ, motioning for his friends to accompany him.
Walking a little farther, the bear entered the yard of a house, in fact, the house where he and his three teenage friends lived, and after searching in the little dump room in the back of the house, came back with a kind of heart-shaped target, which he hung on the fence.
- All right, Confidence, pretend that this is your target, your enemy, and he's coming to attack you - began the bear - What would you do in such a situation?
Confidence smiled and faced the target.
- I'd twirl in the air and fit three blows to his belly with my right arm, plus a kick in the head with my left foot, all in just five seconds - the fox replied.
- That to me does not sound very careful - said Hector in mockery tone.
- Not really - Champ said in the same tone - Well, I would do that...
And Champ moved quickly in front of the target, concentrated, and made the Stare flow from his belly, which hit the target correctly. For a few seconds he did this, concentrated, seeing the target with his arms rigid on the side of the body to give more impetus to the Stare, and to catch the rebound effect. At last he stopped and looked at the fox.
- Did you see how I did it? - he asked, proudly.
- Oh, it's easy for you, since you've been doing it all your life...
- Well, you just have to believe you can do it. After all, your name is not Confidence Heart? Or has it changed to Craven Heart?
That provocation sounded in the fox's ears as an insult, and frowning, stared at his friend, saying,
- Now you'll see who you're talking to!
And she turned to the target and was in the same position as Champ. But unlike the bear, nothing happened to the young woman's tummy symbol, who was struggling more and more with no results. After a few minutes, she relaxed, exhausted.
- Damn it! - she cried, punching the air.
- Maybe you should not try to do this in anger, Confidence - Hector said - My father always told me that when we do things in anger, we usually just screw up.
- Well, I think he's the first to do it - said the fox, sighing - All right, Champ, what should I do?
- You should do what? - Bright Heart asked, reaching behind the group and accompanied by Treat Heart.
- Use the Stare - Champ said, turning to his friends - Bright Heart and Treat Heart, this is Hector, the boy we're helping.
- Hey, Hector? Are you all right? - asked the raccoon, squeezing the boy's hand.
- Did you come here to know a little about how our sportsman friend lives? - Treat Heart, too, greeting the boy - Be careful that he does not convince you to play sports. Champ likes that a lot.
- I think it's not a problem, I really like sports - Hector said, smiling.
- It's the best thing you can enjoy - said Champ enthusiastically - Nothing better than running, moving, exercising, and all more...
- I think you're an obsessed, you only think about that! - the female pig joked - But who needs to learn how to use the Care Bear Stare?
- I need - said Confidence, who had been quiet in his corner until that moment - After all, if I have this symbol in my belly, and it serves to something good, I have to learn how to use it...
- Of course - Bright Heart agreed - You'll be able to use your Stare.
- Of course you will - Champ said, turning to the female fennec - Look at the target and try to feel your feelings flow inside you. Let them flow through your body, directing them to your belly, and the Stare will come out as easily as ours. Think you can, and you're good at it.
Treat Heart, Bright Heart and Hector began to cheer for Confidence, and she got her cheeks red.
- Well, I'm not going to do that with an audience near me - she said with a small smile - I'm embarrassed.
- Come on, Confidence! - Hector insisted - You can do it!
- Do not mind us, think it's you and the target only - said the raccoon, which was always admired by the fox's willpower.
And on the positive pressure of the others, the young woman decided to risk. Positioning yourself before the target and tilting your chest forward, she longed ardently to let go of her Stare. She felt all her feelings inside her fidgeting like never before. A great inner strength, which she had felt only when Sage Heart Bear had tested her for her magical ability, formed and forced her mind to go on. It was possible to hear the beating of his heart, was almost succeeding, almost...
- Ah! - she cried, dropping to the ground, exhausted and panting.
Everyone stood still in front of the scene. The fox's tummy symbol even brightened for a second, but the physical effort she had to get to that point overcame her determination, and she fell to the ground, exhausted and ashamed. For Confidence, not being able to do anything or win a battle was like the end of the world, the biggest cause of shame for her.
- I can’t... - she said between two deep sighs, punching the floor - Damn it, why can't I?!?
- You can do it - said Champ, approaching and kneeling beside her - It does not have to be now, in front of us. At the right time, you will. Just do not give up, and I know you do not give up easily.
His friend's words gave a great deal to the fennec, who smiled at the bear. He reached out to help her up, which Confidence did not refuse. But just as she took Champ's hand and he wrapped her around her back so she could stand up, Cheer Bear came and saw that scene, getting angry and very jealous. Hidden by the angle of the house, she just watched, seeing everything red with hatred.
She heard when Champ said words of support for the fox, saw when her friends helped her feel better, even saw the boy who was with the group say he liked the sportsmen couple. "Couple"! That word never hurt so much in the heart of that pink bear. She too nor had ever experienced as much hatred as in that second. How she wanted to go there and get rid of that fake fox, who was slowly taking her boyfriend and friends.
But before she could move, Cheer Bear felt someone touching his shoulder. With a leap, she turned and came face to face with True Heart Bear. She looked at the young female bear and the group, and nodded to the pink bear to accompany her. Without anyone realizing it, the two of them walked away and went to the matriarch's house, where they could talk in peace, since Noble Heart was not.
Cheer sat down on the couch, while True stood in front of her, his hands on his waist, his brow furrowed, his face stern.
- I can even imagine what you were thinking, Cheer Bear - she began - Oh heavens! I can even understand what you are feeling, but I never thought you would have thoughts as low and feeling as bad as hatred.
- Have you learned to read thoughts now? - the pink bear asked dryly.
- I not, but the caring meter, yes. The indicators of the clock were spinning madly, and Wish Bear and Funshine Bear desperate for not knowing the source of the problem. I went to the control room in the Hall of Hearts and found out that the problem was here in Care-a-Lot! And with you, your boyfriend and that fox... I had to run there before something deplorable happened.
- She's stealing Champ from me! - shouted the young female bear - Gradually she is conquering him and the others, with that captivating and sporting way of her. Would not you be jealous too?
- Of course yes! - replied the matriarch energetically, before stopping and thinking -Well, I know you do not like her, and I told you that both Grams Bear and I do not believe she told us the truth. It's a shame that Bright Heart and Treat Heart think that this is only implication on our part and they did not agree to help us. But we're both going to be able to discover the secret of Confidence Heart.
- And in the meantime I have to endure her hitting on my boyfriend, now that he's declared his love to me...
- He did that?
- Yes - said Cheer a little more calmly - You can’t imagine my happiness, True Heart. Finally he said he loves me!
- I can imagine, yes - said True Heart, also more calmly as he sat down - Remember, I've been through something like that...
- You never told me how you met Noble and how he declared himself to you - said the young female bear after a little silence from the matriarch.
- Well, it's been a long time, and that's beside the point now. But I am glad he has declared for you, it means that Champ loves her and will not trade her for Confidence.
- Really? He and I are so different. He likes sports, I do not. He likes to exercise, I do not. I like to dress up, go to parties, he does not. He's stubborn, and I... Well... I am too, okay. But Confidence is almost like him: sportsman, strong, gets dressed as and when she wants, does not like waste time and other types of details. I'm afraid this will cause them both to come closer.
- They're both friends, and that are all. It is common for friends to have things in common, but it does not mean that they will end up falling in love and you fall behind.
- What if I told him about our suspicions about Confidence? - the pink bear asked.
- I don't stop you from doing this, but you know that Champ will tell for Confidence about our suspicions, and surely he will be upset with you - True Heart said - Champ doesn't know how to lie. Not to mention that Confidence might try to do something against us.
- You're right. I will not say anything.
- Another thing. You need to control yourself when you're near her. Love-a-Lot Bear told me how you and Confidence nearly fought yesterday. This is not worthy of a Care Bear, and if she knows how to fight karate, you don't know and you would also be at a disadvantage. Do not miss the reason, because besides losing the fight, Champ will surely be against you for having begun the provocation.
- It will not be easy, but I'll try.
Trueheart smiled and gave Cheer a hug, before the two of them began to talk about other matters, forgetting for some time the problems around them.
- The dough is almost ready for to get the nuts, Grams Bear - Noble Heart said as he tossed the contents of a jar into a spoon.
- Great, I'll peel them already - said the old female bear, smiling.
- You think True's going to like the nut pie?
- Of course yes. You told me yourself this is her favorite dish, is not it? But why did you decide to surprise her?
Noble stopped stirring in the mass for a few moments, head down, pensive.
- Flower, I will not deny you that... - he began.
- Wow! It's been a long time since I heard my name! - interrupted Grams Bear, smiling and stroking his tummy symbol - You all call me Grams Bear, it's strange to hear someone who still knows my name.
- It must be. But as I said, I will not hide from you that my relationship with True Heart is getting cold. You've known us since when we were young and we fell in love, the dreams we built together and how much she and I loved each other. We still love each other! But, after everything that happened, and with the cubs to take care of, I realized that we both moved away as husband and wife. Concerned with the education of the cubs, we have forgotten both of us.
- Have you ever tried to talk to her about it?
- Of course, several times these last few days, but she does not want to talk about that kind of love. Basically, I think she has created a position of respect, command and seriousness in front of everyone, and she does not want to lose that position, because she thinks that...
- Think that everyone will stop loving her to go away - Grams said, smiling - You know how True Heart is attached to the other bears. They've grown up, but even so she still sees them as her cubs, it's like she's their mother. Certainly she fears that they will stop loving her the moment they discover the truth; that she has lied to them all.
- That's right - Noble Heart agreed - She does not even realize she'll never be alone, she'll always have me by her side. That's why I'm making this pie to give it to her, to show that I love her.
- You will try to hunt her down the belly, as they say? - the old female bear asked maliciously - That just is not enough. You'll have to talk to her about all that you're telling me.
Noble Heart was silent for a moment, while Grams Bear poured the chopped nuts into the pie crust.
- Ready; Just stir some more and go to the oven - she said excitedly - One hour and the pie is ready for the passionate knight hand over for his lady.
- I wanted to ask you something, since we're alone... - the horse began with some hesitation.
- Feel free to ask.
- How do you feel today about the disappearance of Joyful Bear and Looter Bear?
The mere mention of the name Joyful Heart made Grams Bear stop in the middle of the kitchen as he remembered his daughter and your son-in-law, who disappeared during the course of a mission many years before.
- I confess I have not yet gotten used to it - she said sadly - And every time I look at my grandchildren, I see her in front of me and my son-in-law as well. After all, Hugs and Tugs are so similar to them...
A tear rolled from Grams Bear's eyes, while Noble Heart was embarrassed.
- I'm sorry for asking, but we're never alone to talk about it - said the horse - You had told Joyful the truth, did not you?
- I didn't want to hide from her what happened to us, and especially to her father - said the old bear slowly - The others deserve to know about it, too, and an hour you'll have to talk about it with them.
- I agree with you, but... - Noble Heart bowed his head - But if we both tell, True will never talk to us again. And especially with me...
- Well... Where did you put the family albums so no one would find them?
- They are well guarded, in a place where no one will imagine. Want to know where?
New York is the city of superlatives. Largest urban settlement, largest city in the world, more skyscrapers, more foreign immigrants, food, languages, customs, cars and businesses in one place. And there were also offices of the three largest companies in the world at that time: McPeterson Corp., McFowler Uythor Company and B & H Company.
Of all of them, B & H was the only one that would soon change its address, as a new headquarters was being built in a city near New York.
But two floors below where the B & H's office was, and unnoticed by all, was at the headquarters of Midletown Trade and Construction, a small speculative and banking business who participated in some public bids for renovation and construction Of roads in the American Midwest and an electric power plant in China.
This small and obscure company was run by Mr. Charles Midletown, a character as mysterious as his company. Charles was supposed to be about 50 years old. He was a thin, gray-haired man with a pointed nose and a white forehead, wearing gold-rimmed glasses and dark blue suits. His family was known for politics and scandals. His great-uncle had been a deputy for Illinois in 1905, acting for the benefit of that region. His grandfather was in favor of Nazism while he owned the newspapers of the city of Chicago, and a distant ancestor had fought in the Civil War against the Union, defending black slavery. Charles did not appear to be any of this, leading a seemingly respectable life, living in a luxurious apartment in the Central Park area a few years ago.
What his neighbors and even some of his employees did not know was that Charles commanded an extensive network of mercenary soldiers, responsible for participating in various wars and revolutions, without anyone ever really coming to his name or that of his companions. From his seemingly quiet office, was provided the money, soldiers, and weapons needed to maintain various conflicts around the world, such as the genocide in Bosnia, the war in Burundi, and the supply of materials to extremist groups in the Middle East.
On that day, Charles had been working normally in his company, as the respectable gentleman he pretended to be. But there was something special to do at lunch, which was to meet another mercenary who wanted to join his ranks. Sitting in his office chair, he slowly reread the letter of introduction of that new recruit, signed by one of his paramilitary group's spies whose code identification was GAIR, and meant “Group Against the Infidels to the Reich”. From the references presented in that letter, the new recruit fit perfectly into the plans of such a group, so businessman was curious to meet him.
At the antechamber, Charles's secretary was writing a report, when he saw someone approaching the door. He was a young man, with an angular face, skinny, dressed in a black blouse, blue pants and red shoes, the same color as his eyebrows and hair, while his challenging eyes were blue and showed that the young man knew very well what he wanted.
- What do you want? - asked the secretary.
- I came to talk to Mr. Charles - the boy answered in a thick, confident voice - Tell him it's John Dawson.
Moments later, Dawson entered Charles's room, and they both looked at each other for the first time. It was important to them to have first impressions, for it was their system. The young man sat in the chair at the new boss's table, which laced his fingers together and smiled after a few seconds.
- I imagined you taller and stronger, but there is something in your eyes that makes me think you are a very intelligent person - the host said slowly - You were recommended to me by Johann. Why do you want to join our group?
- Let's say our interests are the same - the boy replied confidently - I have not wanted to follow the system in a long time, and now I think it's time to help someone who really does not want to follow also.
- And how did you hear about our organization? Certainly it was not through newspaper classifieds or bar talk...
- Let's say I caused certain annoyances for the Portland police, and this caught the attention of Mr. Johann, who came to me to talk.
- Oh, old Johann is our best man on the west coast - the businessman said, smiling languidly - He is directly subordinate to me, but his letter of recommendation attracted the attention of our leader, General Klaus. Well, did Johann explain to you the functioning of our organization?
- In a very superficial way, he said that you would do it after you evaluated me - Dawson replied calmly - I agree with his prudence, after all that was our first contact.
- Excellent! - Charles exclaimed again, raising his arms up - You're wise, you'll certainly have a great future in our group when we take over. Johann has already told me about what you two talked about before. I believe you already know what our main objective is and whom we will neutralize first.
- Yes, and I will do everything to stop those who propagate care and love and prevent us from acting. I never needed those feelings, I don't need them now, and not even the world needs them.
- Exactly. When we take power, the world will follow a new order, and we will exercise it with iron hands, without mercy towards our enemies. Now, I believe that this address you gave to Johann is not exactly your address, is it not?
- Not really, it's just a place to contact. I do not want to attract unnecessary attention. And if I may say so, I look forward to taking action.
- That will not be long - Charles said with a warm smile - I'll be in touch with you when our leadership makes a decision. Auf Wiedersehen!
Minutes later, in the underground parking lot of the building, Dawson got in his car and drove off through the streets, making several laps to make sure he was not being followed. He finally stopped after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, and grabbed a paper bag from the glove compartment, vomiting inside.
- Oh my God! - exclaimed the boy, running his hand over his head.
Dawson could not believe what he was getting himself into again. After all, even before talking to Johann or Charles, he already knew all this and more. Ever since he'd changed his life, after so much time in the dark, he'd thought he'd never get on with those kind of people again, especially in an organization that he'd somehow been forged by himself. It was difficult for him to return to such a despicable medium, but there was no other way.
How Dawson hated his previous life. How he wished he still had the power to travel through the ages for him to change himself. But he could not, for he had lost that power and thanked God for it. If he had continued as he was, it would be the end of him and of the world. But now he needed to pretend again that it was evil, so that he could enter the GAIR and have the confidence of all those who wanted to destroy the prevailing order, so that in due time he could prevent the intentions of those enemies. Perhaps if it was his own decision, he would not be meddling in that risky mission, but there was an agreement between him and the only other person who could stop those megalomaniac plans of domination: Frank Heartom. Just the same Frank Heartom who once had so many reasons to kill him, but who now depended on that red-haired boy to know what was really going on and to avoid a greater evil to mankind.
Stopping the car again next to a pay phone, Dawson quickly made a call as he thought about how fate had been ironic with him from the beginning and how now he had the chance to solve his inner problems that had not yet been resolved, despite all the dangers he would run.
- Operator? It's an international connection, Batovi train station, Rio Claro, Sao Paulo, Brazil - he started, giving the line number, and a few moments later he was answered - Good evening. I'd like to speak to Jason McClouds, please. Jason? This is Dawson. If you talk to Frank in the next few days, tell him I got in, and I'll send you some news soon. Yes, I have a special cell phone. All right, good luck on your mission, too. Bye.
Turning the device off, the boy returned to the car and leaned back in his seat, giving a deep sigh. He could not wait to get to his temporary apartment and be able to rest a little, preparing the spirit for what came from that moment.