Challenge:  Keren, It was your challenge that gave me the little extra I felt my story needed.

Summary:  A mysterious string of robberies haunt the Knights

I would like to thank all the HK fanfic authors whose work I have read on the web.
I have enjoyed it all and when I couldn't find anymore, I decided to try to write one of my own.

Oh, and, ThUD
:   The Usual Disclaimer applies.
Houston Knights is the property of others like Jay Bernstein, Michael Butler, Columbia Pictures, etc.
No copyright infringement is intended.  I enjoyed the series and feel they gave up on it far too soon.
So, like others, I do this not for profit but because I love the characters
The Letter
by Arrow, (c) July 2001

Sgt. Levon Lundy tossed his mail on the dining room table with a weary sigh.  Tonight he was too tired to even eat.
He picked up a bottle and glass from the hutch behind him then sat down at the table.  He slowly poured about an inch
of the amber liquid into the small glass then held the glass up in front of his face to watch the light reflecting through
the liquid.  He slowly sipped his drink letting his eyes close as the liquid slid down his throat and he waited for the
resulting warmth to spread through his body.

It had been a long day due to his Lieutenant pushing for results on the case he and his partner spent most of their
time working on without much success.  He knew she was getting pressured from above, but he was doing the best
he could with what little information they had.  To make matter worse, his normally volatile partner had been quiet and
withdrawn all day.  Although he had tried to find out what was on the fiery Italian's mind, he knew that LaFiamma
would not tell him anything until he was good and ready.

Levon finished his drink with one swallow and set the glass on the table next to the small stack of envelopes then
began to leaf through them without interest.  There was a bill, an advertisement and then another bill but the last one
was a small, brown, hand-written envelope with no return address.  He turned it over; there was nothing written on
the back.  Out of curiosity, he opened it.  The envelope held a single piece of paper, which he took out and unfolded.
It seemed to be some sort of letter.

                    You won't know when
                    You won't know where
                    Your life will be destroyed
                    Just as you destroyed mine

"Perfect," he thought, "A bad ending to a bad day."  He tossed the paper on the desk and got up to go to bed

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Sgt. Joe LaFiamma awoke with a start.  Bright, morning sunlight streamed through the window but he was not ready
for another day.  His first thought was the case he and Levon were working on and he was sure he had been dreaming
about it.  It was frustrating and it stuck in his mind like a toothache.  As he forced himself out of bed to begin getting
ready for work, he remembered the letter from his aunt which was sitting on the stand next to his bed.  While he
showered and dressed, he could hear her voice saying the words that were written on the pretty blue paper.

                    Please be careful.  I had the dream.  I don't think it has anything to do with what happened here
          in Chicago.  It must be something there in Houston.  But you are in some sort of danger ...

The dream.  Ever since he was a child, he could remember her talking about 'the dream."  She would never say what
exactly the dream was.  It was always just "the dream" and it always meant something terrible was going to happen.

"It's going to be another long day," he thought as he went out the door.

**  **  **  **  **  **  **

Levon was already sitting at his desk when Joe got to the office.  Joe sat down across from him without saying
anything.  Levon glanced up at him momentarily then returned to what he was doing.

"You look good," Levon mumbled after a few tense minutes had passed.

"Look who's talking," Joe snarled.  Thankfully, Lt. Beaumont prevented the conversation from turning ugly.

"Joe.  Levon," she called from her office.

"Sorry, guys," she started as they came through the doorway.  "There's been another one."

"That makes six," Joe commented.

"Only this time the owner of the store was still there."

"And.....?"  Levon asked, holding his breath as he waited for an answer.

"He's in a coma," she answered.  "It wasn't enough to destroy his store; they had to beat him up, too."  She handed
Levon a slip of paper.  "Here's the address."

"We're on it, Lieutenant," Levon assured her as he and Joe left.

Joe and Levon carefully stepped over the broken glass covering the sidewalk and went into the small store.  They
looked around hoping this incident would be different.  It was just a little antique store.  The odds and ends of people's
lives had been turned into worthless rubble.

"What pleasure does someone get from destruction?" Joe asked as they searched, trying to find something to give
them a clue as to who had unleashed such violence on this unassuming place.  It didn't appear that anything had been
left undamaged and there was no way to determine what belonged there and what the perpetrators may have left behind.

As they walked out of the building and back into the sunshine, they heard the crackle of the car radio.  Levon reached
through the open window to answer.

"92-14," he said.

"Levon," Joanne Beaumont's voice said.  "The store owner died ten minutes ago."  Levon replaced the microphone
and turned to Joe.

"It's not just vandalism and robbery anymore, LaFiamma.  Now it's murder."

Neither Joe nor Levon were aware of the dull black Cadillac that slowly drove by behind them.  Nor did they hear the
laughter from inside.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

"This is crazy," the Lieutenant said as she tossed the file on Levon's desk.  "No one hears anything.  No one sees
anything."  She sighed as she thought for a moment.  "Is there any connection between the stores?"

"Not that we can find," Joe said.  "None of the owners know each other and the stores are all different."

"They're just small private businesses," Levon continued.  "There hasn't been more than a couple hundred dollars
in any of the registers."

"I guess we're back to square one," the Lieutenant decided.  "Go back to the sites.  Maybe you'll find something or
someone we've missed.  Meanwhile, I've released a statement to the press asking for information.  Maybe there's a
passerby out there.  Maybe."

"Maybe ... Maybe ...," Joe mumbled as she returned to her office.  "Too many maybes on this one, Lundy."

"You're tellin' me," he agreed. They both left their desks wearily and prepared to go back over already well-covered

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The doors to the diner seemed to open of their own accord before the three young men entered the busy restaurant.
They were dressed in black.  One had a knee length black leather coat on with no shirt.  The ends of his hair reached
past his shoulders and seemed to blend into the color of his coat.  One was wearing black leather pants, a black vest,
no shirt and boots.  His curly black hair just brushed his shoulders.  The third merely wore a plain black t-shirt and
black jeans.  His dark hair was short and combed back away from his face.

As the three men walked through the restaurant, the other customers purposely looked away, pretending not to have
noticed them.  After the three men sat down in a booth away from the windows, the young waitress hesitated before
walking over to them, coffee pot in hand.

"Coffee?" she asked.  The one with the long coat looked up at her slowly.  His dark eyes seemed to hold her for a

"Sure," he murmured.  She seemed to feel his voice more than hear it. Her hand trembled slightly as she turned over
the cups in front of each one then poured the coffee.  She was uncomfortably aware that the three of them were
staring at her.

"Can we get breakfast?" he asked.  His voice was quiet and deep.

"No problem," she answered.  "I'll get you some menus."  As she moved away, she took a deep breath.  She felt like
she had just come through a storm.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"All the shops were closed when they were hit," Joe reiterated to the Lieutenant.

"The donut shop had closed early because the owner wasn't feeling well," he continued.  "The owner of the dress
shop was out of town so her shop had been closed for a couple of days.  The market, the gift shop, and the watch
repair shop had all closed at their regular time."

"The owner of the antique shop," Levon added, "was still in the store because he had gotten some things at an estate
sale and he was getting them ready to put on display."

"How do we know that?" Joanne asked.

"He normally plays chess with a neighbor on Tuesdays.  He called his neighbor earlier in the evening and told him he
would be late."

"Well, how about informants?"

"Joanne," Levon said, "we've cornered every snitch we know.  Nothing."

"You know, Lieutenant," Joe said slowly.  "When this kind of thing happens in Chicago, it usually means some sort of

"Like people are scared..." Levon thought out loud.

"Well?  What are you doing just sitting here?" Joanne asked.

"You know, LaFiamma," Levon said as they were leaving, "maybe we should wait until tonight.  Could be there'll be
someone around who isn't there during the day."

"Could be. Lundy," Joe agreed.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Now I know Mr. LaFiamma does not appreciate my fine cuisine," Chicken teased, "but, Levon, you seem to be a bit
off your feed."

"It's this case, Chicken," Levon explained.  "We're getting nowhere."

"Are you sure you haven't heard anything, Chicken?" Joe asked.

"There isn't even a whisper on the street.  It's like it's not even happening."

"Well, you keep an eye out, Chicken," Levon warned as he and Joe started to leave.  "There's no telling what these
guys'll do next."

"I appreciate the thought, Levon, but I don't think I have anything they're lookin' for.  You two take care out there."

"We will."

"I sure wouldn't want to tangle with Chicken," Joe said as he and Levon came out of Chicken's restaurant.  "But he
may have a point.  These guys may not want to deal with anyone who can fight back."

"Yeah, it looks that way, doesn't it," Levon agreed as they walked to his car.  "So, where do you wanna start?"

"At the beginning, I guess," Joe shrugged.

As they got into the Jimmy, a noisy, old pick-up lumbered down the street.  Levon flinched when it backfired as it passed.

"Getting spooked?" Joe laughed as Levon slammed the door and turned on the engine.  Levon threw an angry glare at him in reply.

"S'okay," Joe explained.  "This case is making me antsy, too."

They went through the same routine at each of the sites, driving around the immediate area then getting out and
walking it.  At the first two stores they found nothing new.  The area was dark and quiet and the other stores on the
block were already closed and empty.  When they pulled up in front of the third shop, a man was walking a small dog.
He slowed down and watched Joe and Levon get out of the truck then breathed a sigh of relief as they came up to
him, showing their badges."

"Sir," Joe asked, "do you walk your dog around here every night?"

"Yes, I get home late," he answered.

"Same time?" Levon asked.

"Well,..." he hesitated, "I used to do it later ...... but ........well,..... I changed."


"I feel kinda silly now that I think about it, but there was this car.  Big ... black ... old.  It drove by real slow.  My dog
stopped and wouldn't move 'till it was gone."

"Could you see into the car?" Levon asked.

"No, I .... I didn't look."

"Do you know when you saw this car?" Joe asked.  The man looked down nervously then slowly looked back up and
looked at Joe apologetically.

"I think it was the day before the market was broken into."

"You didn't happen to see the license, did you?" Levon asked.

"License?  ... No.  But the car, it wasn't shiny or anything.  It was hard to see it in the dark."

When they stopped in front of the antique store the area was dark and quiet.  Even the restaurant on the other side of
the street looked like it was getting ready to close.  The yellow tape was still across the broken window at the front of
the store.  This was the last one and they didn't rush to get out of the truck.

"So, all we have is a black car," Levon said.  "Not much to go on."

"It's more than we had this morning," Joe said.  He reached for the door handle and started to open the door.

"Wait," Levon said, "there's someone coming."  Joe saw the man walking slowly towards them.  His clothes were
ragged and torn and he was unsteady on his feet.  He turned and went into a narrow walkway between two of the
buildings.  Joe and Levon got out and followed him.

As they came up behind him, he was busy arranging something on the ground in front of him.  He turned and saw Joe
and Levon.

"Go away," he cried.  "Leave me alone!"

"Sir," Levon said calmly, "We're not going to hurt you.  We're police officers.  We just want to talk to you."

"Police?  No, you can't make me leave.  This is my place.  My place.  My place."

"It's all right," Joe assured him.  "We won't make you leave.  We just need to ask you a couple questions."

"Questions?" the man asked, relaxing a little.  "I can stay here?"

"You can stay," Levon confirmed.  "Were you here the night the antique store was broken into?"

"Antique store?"

"Just down the block," Joe told him.  The man looked away and nodded slowly.

"They were from hell," he declared.

"They?" Joe asked.

"They came in a big black car.  Black, like the night.  Three of them.  They got out of the car and the store let them in."

"What?" Levon asked.

"Door just opened.  Like magic."  Joe and Levon glanced at each other.

"Did you get a look at any of their faces?" Joe asked.

"No.  I only saw his eyes."  He looked at Levon for a moment.

"One of them looked right at me as they drove away," he continued.  "No soul.  He had no soul."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The dull black car slowly came to a stop in front of the second-hand bookstore.  The three men got out slowly.  The
one with the long leather jacket held a sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun loosely at his side.  The door to the store was
already open and they went inside.

"Hey," the man said as he stood up behind the counter.  "How did you do that?"

"There's not much to break here," the one with the black t-shirt said and started pulling books from the shelves.  The
one in the vest joined in the destruction.

"No!" the man cried and started to move but stopped when the third man aimed the shotgun at his face.  He focused
his dark eyes on owner of the store and said nothing. The man could only stare helplessly into the end of the shotgun
while his store was ransacked.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Do you think the Lieutenant's gonna wanna hear about a big black car and a guy with no soul, Lundy?" Joe asked as
he got into the Jimmy.

"I don't even want to think about it," Levon said as he opened the door.  A screech of brakes made him stop before
getting into his truck.  A shiny red car slid around the corner and sped past, narrowly missing Levon where he stood.
After the car disappeared around another corner, Levon climbed behind the wheel.

"Wanna go after them?" Joe asked.

"Yep," Levon said as he started the car, pulled away from the curb and sped after the fleeing car.  When he turned
at the corner the car had gone around, they saw the car.  It was already a couple blocks down the street.  Levon pushed
the accelerator trying to catch up as the car turned left, again sliding around the corner.  As Levon followed it around
the corner, he heard a store alarm.  The shiny red car sped away into the night as Levon stopped in front of the store with the broken window.

He and Joe pulled their guns as they got out of the car and carefully entered the store.  Books lay in piles on the floor
and a couple shelves were tipped over and lying on the books that had been on the shelves.  The store appeared to
be empty.  Levon looked over at the counter and saw the open register.  He also saw the man lying on the floor
behind the counter when he went to check the register.  He immediately turned away.  There was no need to check to
see if the man was alive, his face was gone.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Joe and Levon were sitting in Lieutenant Beaumont's office trying to decide if the bits and pieces of information they
had put them any closer to finding the perpetrators.

"It was the owner of the store," she told them.  "He frequently stayed late after he closed.  The store was his life,
according to his sister."

"We'll put out a description of the car and maybe ..." she paused when her phone rang.

"Beaumont," she answered.  She listened for only a moment.  "Well, send her up."

"We may have just gotten lucky," she told Joe and Levon.

A few minutes later, Levon stood up as a uniformed officer brought a young girl to the door of Lt. Beaumont's office.

"Lieutenant," the officer explained, "this is Sally Foster."

"Thank you," she said and the officer left.

"Hello, Sally.  I'm Lieutenant Beaumont.  This is Sgt. Lundy and LaFiamma."

"Would you like to sit down?" Levon asked the obviously nervous girl.

"Thank you, she answered and sat down.

"The officer said you thought you might have some information for us."

"Yes," she said.  "I work at Rudy's Diner.   I heard about the robberies on the news.  I think I may have seen the men."

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Levon walked into the dark house.  He didn't bother to turn on light as he went down the hall to his bedroom.  He set
his hat on the dresser, kicked off his boots and fell on the bed.  He was asleep almost immediately but his sleep was
haunted by dreams of black hearses and men with black eyes and a soft voice chanting "Someday.  Somewhere.  You
won't know where.  You won't know when.  I will destroy your life ... destroy your life ..... destroy ........."

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Once again, Joe awoke with a start.  He was breathing hard.  He had been dreaming.  What was it?  Someone was
chasing him, someone in black, someone with a shotgun.

He took a deep breath and got out of bed feeling like he had never been asleep.

Later, before he was about to leave, he glanced at his aunt's letter still sitting where he left it.

"I'll remember," he told her.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

They were quiet as they drove through the streets hoping by some chance to spot the dull black car.  Joe didn't
complain about Houston.  Levon stared solemnly out the window as he drove.

"92-14," Joe said as he answered the radio.

"Joe," the lieutenant said, "the car's been spotted at an outdoor restaurant called Kelly's."

"We're close," Levon told Joe.

"We're there, Lieutenant,' Joe answered and replaced the mic.  Levon looked over at Joe, his unspoken question
hanging in the air, and Joe nodded in reply.

They saw the car but they couldn't see if the men were still inside.  Even though it was a bright afternoon, the inside
of the car seemed to be completely dark.  Levon edged the Jimmy up to the black car and stopped.

A moment later the black car lurched forward and took off, knocking down a trashcan and nearly hitting a pedestrian.
Levon followed.

The car was fast and showed no concern for anyone or anything.  Levon pushed the Jimmy to its limits, trying to keep
up with the speeding vehicle but, with each turn, the black car edged further away from the Jimmy.  Then, finally, the
black car seemed to be out of control as it slid through one last turn.  Levon and Joe heard the crash as they followed
the black car around the corner.

The front of the black car was imbedded in the side of a building and steam billowed out from the engine.  Levon
stopped behind the black car and he and Joe quickly got out with their guns drawn.  Levon moved to the driver's side
and Joe edged up the passenger side.  Keeping their weapons at the ready, they looked inside the car and realized
the two men in the front seat were dead but a back door was open and the third man was no longer inside the
vehicle.  Joe and Levon glanced at each other then began to scan the immediate area searching for the third man.

Joe heard the click of the shotgun being closed and turned to the sound.  The man with the long black coat was
walking towards them, aiming the shotgun.  He seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.  Before Joe could take aim,
the man fired.

Levon saw Joe as he was thrown backwards, then fell to the ground and didn't move.  Levon returned fire then came
around the back of the car towards Joe.  He glanced at Joe then shifted his attention to the man who was now aiming
the shotgun at him.  Before the man could take another step, Levon fired again.  The man hardly reacted as Levon's
bullet hit.  He then fired at Levon and Levon felt the impact in his chest as he too was lifted off the ground.  He rolled
as he fell and turned to see the man reloading the shotgun as he came closer.  Levon raised his gun carefully
and looked into the black eyes. "He was right," he thought, "No soul."  Levon aimed at those eyes as he carefully
squeezed the trigger.  The man stopped and looked back at Levon.  He almost seemed to smile for a moment.

Then the man in the long leather coat dropped the shotgun and fell to his knees.  He was still looking at Levon as he
fell forward, face down, to the ground.

Levon crawled over to Joe.

"Joe," he called.  Joe didn't answer.  "Joe, talk to me!" he commanded as he opened Joe's shirt.  A vest!  He was
wearing a vest.  Levon sat back in relief as Joe coughed and opened his eyes.

"Damn," Joe said, "that hurts!"

"I know what you mean, partner," Levon said and opened his shirt for Joe to see that he, too, was wearing a vest.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"It's almost as if they didn't exist," Joanne told Joe and Levon as they sat at their desks.

"The fingerprints turned up nothing," she continued.  "They don't match any missing person reports.  And the car they
were driving is registered to a man who died in Oklahoma ten years ago."

"What made you both decide to put on vests?" she asked.

"Seemed like the right thing to do," Joe explained.

"Just good police work," Levon agreed.  Joanne looked first at Joe then she turned to look at Levon.

"Yeah, right," she said, after she thought for a moment.  "Go home.  I can't deal with both of you being careful."

"I mean it," she insisted, when they didn't move.  "Go home."

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Joe walked into his apartment and looked around.  It was just the way he left it.  Nothing had changed.  It seemed like
something should be different.  He felt like he had been carrying something heavy and it was now gone.  He was tired
but relieved.  Maybe he would be able to sleep now.  He went up the stairs and picked up the letter from the side of
the bed.  He smiled as he read it one last time then put it in the drawer.

"Keep on dreaming, Aunt Theresa," he whispered.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Levon closed the door behind him with a sigh.  He looked around slowly at his home, his things and he smiled.  He
never realized before how important his home was to him.  He walked into another room and over to the table where
his mail still sat unopened, except for the one letter.  He picked it up and started to unfold it, then laughed as he tore it
up into pieces.

"Give it your best shot," he said to the unknown someone who wrote the letter.

** ** **
** ** ** ** ** ** **
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

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