tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 24

Life as a New Hire Ch. 24

byFinalStand©

This story plays fast and loose with Ancient History and Linguistics; be warned.

You will never appreciate having to follow a difficult order until you have to give one.

Editing magic performed by KJ24 and Shyqash, plus contributions by the regular gang of brigands and neer-do-wells.


*****

(Late, late Saturday Night)

Had I been alone...?

There are few perks to a solitary lifestyle. One of the few is the freedom from others; and by that I mean you don't have to decide if you care about people you don't know. You are free. Your emotions are free, your decisions are free and your time is your own. Selfish in the best way.

Libra took my keys after we arrived at my apartment building and raced ahead to make sure that Timothy and Odette, if either was awake, would be forewarned. Casper clung to me as she always did. Estere took the lead since I also had to do pack mule duty. Brooke carried the few things that were beyond me. The rain was turning from a drizzle to a downpour.

Odette had a friend over - a female acquaintance. Timothy...Timothy was in the middle of a very successful date night. Now I had the joy of being an auditory spectator in my domicile's sexcapades.

"Shouldn't she be taken to a clinic, or something?" the friend blurted out. I didn't know her enough to decide if she was nervous, flippant, or secretly cruel. Casper dug in tighter.

I had to dump the luggage to deal with her heightened anxiety. Libra, Brooke and Odette picked up the slack while Estere soaked in the ambiance of my dwelling. The look she gave me was one of amusement and intrigue. This was hardly the lair of the one and only Amazon Prince. It was sublime and comfortable. It had a nomadic quality she found familiar.

Being in a fortress has its comforts. Being in someone else's fortress is far less comfortable. Estere was quietly accounting for every knife, mallet, or other potentially fatal piece of housewares. Brooke, Libra and Odette were already ordering and organizing my life ... what did they need to get and how would they get it?

"So...you are Odette's...friend," the unknown woman stated. Snapping at her was unduly unfair to Odette, who put up with mountains of my insane lifestyle.

"Yeah, that's me. Cáel Nyilas - self-made troublemaker," I confessed. "You?"

"Delilah," she answered. "What happened to her?" Casper flinched.

"Nothing that being reminded about what a wonderful friend she is won't help heal," I cautiously responded. "She is hanging out with me and some friends for the weekend."

"Cut it out, Delilah," Odette sighed. "Who are you really, anyway?" Delilah was smooth, I had to give her that.

"Odette, what do you mean?" Delilah stood up.

"Delilah, or whoever you are, I'm not such a wonderful person that people I've known two days come home with me," Odette lectured. "Now, I kept you here until you could meet Cael, so why don't you return my courtesy and tell us what's going on?" Odette was keeping Libra and Brooke in my room thus out of play.

Timothy climaxed. Good for him. Out in the living room, Delilah made a stutter step. She was frozen by Estere's silenced weapon pointed at her.

"You were spotted by a rank amateur," the Hashashin noted. "Who are you with?"

"You people are nuts," Delilah flushed with panic. Nice touch, but that panic didn't reach her cold, calculating eyes.

"Damn Delilah," Odette shook her head. "You need to watch more television. BBC America has this nice drama called Orphan Black where the exact same thing happened. I knew you were lying to me in twenty minutes. I was nice enough to not bring the Death Squad across the street over to deal with you. They wouldn't have cared whether I was being paranoid or whatever. They would have dragged you out and killed you on general principle. You owe me."

"I don't know what's wrong..." Delilah got out. There was a rapid knocking at the door. Shielding Casper behind me, I backed up in that direction.

"Last chance," Odette looked at Delilah sternly. "That's the Death Squad." Sure enough, I checked and it was two Amazons in full gear. I opened up and the two edged in around me.

"Ishara - status please," the leader asked.

"Estere Abed is a diplomat for her Protocol faction, there should be records of Brooke and Libra on file and Odette belongs here. Casper is behind me - special case. That woman," I motioned to Delilah, "is of unknown origin."

"Miss, lay down on the floor, on your stomach - arms out to your sides," the leader brought her UP-40 up, aimed at Delilah.

"This is insane," Delilah sounded really frantic. Not in the eyes though.

"Lie down, or three rounds in the chest," the Amazon team leader related calmly. "Last chance."

Delilah decided that she wasn't cut from a fanatic's cloth. She went down like a pro. The two Amazons closed in. I spotted the third of the four woman team at my door, keeping watch. The two inside efficiently bound her hands behind her back and patted her down for weapons - none.

"She is in violation of the truce," the leader pointed out. "Should I dispatch her now?"

"Wait!" Delilah squawked. "I'm supposed to keep an eye on him and protect him, not hurt him. Fuck, don't kill me for this."

"Who are you working for?" Estere came closer. Delilah hesitated so both Estere and the number two Amazon drew their knives.

"Fine! Fine. All I have is a name and I'm only supposed to tell him," she pleaded. There was a moment of uncertainty.

"She'll tell us," Estere knelt beside Delilah. Now Delilah's panic was real.

"Wait," I stated. I motioned Brooke and Libra to move around the crowded room and comfort Casper.

"Well," I sighed as I went on my hands and knees beside Delilah's head. The Amazon leader had her hand on the woman's head, pressed tightly to the ground.

"Sibeal," Delilah whispered. Mom.

"Do you have any way of contacting this person?" I asked.

"No. It is not how I work," she said and finally I caught it. The accent. I looked to the leader.

"Look at her hands and tell me what you see," I asked the Amazon. I went back to resting on my knees.

"Hard...callused from repetitive weapons practice. Short nails. She's very fit," the Team Lead kept up the examination. "I apologize Ishara. She's a soldier."

"Let her go," I commanded. The Amazon only paused for a moment before cutting her bonds. Delilah moved cautiously as she moved to a cross-legged position. "You don't have to answer me, but I'd appreciate some honesty. You're English. Would that make you MI-5, or MI-6?" It wasn't as huge a leap as it looked. Who could Mom trust?

In this case, a government operative would actually be safer for her and she had to have decades of Illuminati information inside her head. Delilah had one reason to be honest - her mission.

"MI-5 is counter-intelligence," Delilah grinned as her British accent came out to play. "MI-6/SIS is foreign intelligence. I'll let you figure it out."

"Good enough," I stood then helped her stand as well. "You can stay - starting Monday. I need a break, okay?" Delilah nodded.

"Deal. Now do me the courtesy of telling me why I'm here?" she asked.

"Love. Deep, abiding love," I looked right into her soul.

Crisis averted. Delilah 'agreed' to go with my guardians to 'work things out'. Delilah was curious as to why they called Cáel Nyilas - Ishara. She also congratulated Odette on figuring something was up. Odette told her not to feel bad about it - reference all the psycho bitches that showed up in my life.

Brooke headed out to gather some more belongings for herself and Libra because - my vote not even elicited - they were going to hang close to Casper and I for a few more days. Libra and Estere headed out to that authentic Italian pizza joint I'd taken Libra to earlier since my food stockpile was abysmal and the neighborhood was far from safe this late at night. Odette took Casper to my bedroom so that Casper could talk with her parents in Delaware.

Timothy and his date emerged from his room. It was Sovann Mean, who I had met before and gotten along with. It took me all of two seconds to figure out what had happened. Sovann had asked Timothy out because Timothy never thought Sovann was interested in him. Sovann was a second generation Cambodian-American and had this stoic demeanor he raised up whenever he was nervous, ensuring Timothy's confusion.

"Hey Cáel," Sovann smiled at me. "Still being good?" That was code for me being 'straight'. It still weirded me out a bit - Sovann was a serious weightlifter, like Timothy and I, but a head shorter, so he looked stockier than he really was. When he smiled, his whole face lit up too. It was the Khmer 'twang' that always sounded out of place to me.

"We will not discuss the number of women who were here mere moments ago," I joked wearily. "Timothy, I apologize for coming back early - shithead-intervention shut things down in the Hamptons."

"No problem, Bro," Timothy came and gave me a man-hug.

"With your newfound wealth, we may need to convert the sofa to a sleeper-sofa," Timothy semi-joked. "Oh yeah, and that girl down the hall - when I told her your father died, she baked you some cookies. They're in a tin by the toaster. They really are pretty good, too - walnut and caramel chip." That sounded tasty. I guessed that meant I finally had to meet the women.

Sovann came up and fist-bumped me as Timothy went for the refrigerator. The doorbell rang. I wondered who had forgotten what as I swung the door open. Lighting exploded outdoors, our lights flickered and thunder shook the apartment. It was Uncle Carrig. As the old song said 'he looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone'.

His eyes wore a harried, feral look. His bellow, as he charged, rolled over me like the amplified heartbeat of a hellish primate. I had no time before he was on me. Down we went. I tried to push him off of me. His suit was soaked with rain and blood, some of it had to be his own. In his right hand he held a dull aluminum cylinder with a metallic suction cup on the bottom.

Sovann kicked Uncle Lumpy in the side of the head. Inflicted on a normal man, that would have driven him off me. Lumpy released his hold on my shoulder and backhanded Sovann. The Cambodian went flying in the direction of the sofa despite getting a leg block up. I had a flash of Timothy going for his home deterrent system, aka the crowbar. Odette began yelling.

The cylinder was coming down. Carrig's left grabbed my chin, fixing my head in place. I opted to use both my arms to stop his right, and the device, from coming down. I bought a little time. Timothy's blow came down on Lumpy's left shoulder, weakening the hold, but not enough. The device slammed into my forehead.

I felt a burning pain as a portion of the flesh beneath the cup was flash-fried away. More pain, then a little pressure and finally nothing. In those seconds before my mind spun out of control, I had the oddest sensation there was something inside my brain. Searing agony - existence lost all meaning and I was gone.

(One week later)

They say pain in the brain is illusionary. Of all your nerve cells, only a tiny fraction are devoted to pain. The rest do the important work of keeping your body functioning. The brain is on top of it all and it has better things to do that register pain - or so I was told. To be somewhat fair, what I felt wasn't exactly pain. It was the sensation that something was crawling around inside my psyche, doing something.

Sharp, tingling jolts shocked my body parts at regular intervals. Painful in their own way, yet not so much I couldn't concentrate. I opened my eyes. The lights in my room had been dimmed, but not enough that I couldn't see the six ladies standing about - doing nothing. I recognized my present lodgings as Havenstone Post-classical Modernism (total lie - I'm not an interior designer).

The six ladies turned, looked at me, then closed in slowly. A staring contest was in the offing when two people entered the room from the door at the foot of the bed. It then occurred to me that little sonic indicators on the machinery surrounding me were chirping loudly. One woman was a physician's assistant I knew from an earlier bout at Havenstone Medical. She had performed CPR on me.

The other woman...she was the senior-most recruit from my father's graveside service. She looked positively grim. My dry throat requested some water then I attempted to rise. A problem instantly revealed itself. I was strapped down on my bed. The ankles, wrists and a neck/head brace kept my movements to a minimum.

There was a side benefit to this imprisonment. That body-wide jolts? My body was wired up to a system that had needles piercing my muscle clusters. Amazons prided themselves on being physically fit and their tolerance for pain. My muscles hadn't atrophied during my...coma and the price was this constant, low-level pain. I still wasn't sure that was the reason I was bound.

The PA maneuvered a plastic bottle with a spout to my lips and gave me a brief squirt. A few seconds later I got another and then a third.

"Okay," I rasped. "What's going on?"

"You have been in an unresponsive state for 7 days, Ishara," the 'senior' told me.

"Why are you here?" I coughed. "I mean, why aren't you on the job?" She blinked.

"Your life was imperiled so we decided that five of us would be around to monitor you and keep you safe," she answered.

"What's with everyone else?" I huffed. The two looked at me. The quiet six were of no help.

"Fine, what are you ladies doing here?" I asked the women originally in the room. No answer.

"Ishara?" the PA worried. That was when it dawned on me that the two and the six weren't interacting on any level.

"How many people are in the room?" I asked my housemate. She paused.

"There are three of us, Ishara. You, me and the attendant," she answered. "How many people do you see?"

"Well shit," I muttered. Then the first of the six spoke to me. Actually, she mouthed to me. It took me a moment to realize she was giving me her name. The next one started.

"Device," I snapped to the 'senior'. As she hesitantly reached for hers, I began rattling off the names. When the sixth one gave me her name, the group dissipated into the ether.

"Who are these women?" 'senior' requested.

"Find out," I sighed then, "It is important." She nodded.

Now that the specters were gone, the mortals began to come in. Right off the bat, I was confirmed in my status as "prisoner". They wouldn't free me when I requested it and they made no attempt to conceal their hostility to my fellow Isharan. The agenda was decided without me; they were going to check me out mentally, then I was off to see Hayden.

Why was I imprisoned? My brain was a maelstrom of activity across a broad spectrum of regions and lobes. What had happened? They didn't know. The suction cup had stabilized the tube which was really a firing mechanism. When the device was able to detect and aim for a specific part of my brain, the longitudinal fissure, it shot a rod three-quarters into my cranium.

A laser had burned through the skin and skull with surgeon-like precision so a barb of unknown construction could go deep into my brain. Then it 'detonated'. That was one of the problems the medicos of Havenstone were facing. The device had been so badly damaged when it unleashed its energy that they could no longer divine its function.

What they did understand was that while my neural network was going super-nova, it wasn't killing me. They leapt on the idea of mind control. That theory sounded pretty lame to me, but I was the one tied down, with one ally in a room full of people bred to mistrust all males. The next approach...was I sane? The PA offered that I was seeing phantasms.

'Wait'.

"Go," I directed the senior. "Take care of the business I have given you then tell Buffy and Helena what you've found out. You are wasting your time staying here." She nodded and left. It was more "common sense" rather than any sense of my leadership that made her leave. But that done...

I concentrated on the entirety of the message so that it settled upon my soul. I relaxed, shut my eyes and let the world float by. It took them a minute to notice my noncompliance; any positive contribution on my part had slipped so far down in their expectations.

"Ishara?" one of the SD chicks inquired. I opened one eye, then shut it. There was nothing to be done.

"What is he doing?" that Amazon asked a physician. She, in turn asked me. I took a deep, cleansing breath and continued to ignore them.

"There is nothing wrong with him," the physician noted. "He is being childish." That went beyond disrespectful.

As a quirk of Amazon society, they had left me my knife strapped to my arm. To take it would have been an insult my tiny house could not have borne - essentially declaring me incompetent. I was heading that way, but not yet. That didn't stop them from deriding me until a lull finally developed. For a moment, I thought I was alone. I was intrigued by the words suddenly aimed my way.

"Mr. Nyilas?" an unknown female inquired. I opened an eye. Woman - bad suit - and a badge. What the fuck? I was in Havenstone.

"Special Agent Virginia Maddox with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I'd like to ask you a few questions," she began.

"Okay," I cleared my throat, "as long as we are clear I am one misstep away from invoking my Miranda Rights." She worked that one over for a second.

"Do you know why your uncle attacked you?"

"Honestly, I'm curious as to why I'm still alive," I tried to shrug.

"Carrig and I never got along, if you consider when I first met him we fought and the second time he stabbed me in the forehead," I explained.

"How long did you and your uncle fight - the second time?" she asked.

"Ummm...six second," I guessed. "How is Lumpy doing, anyway?"

"Lumpy?"

"Uncle Carrig."

"He's dead."

"Seriously - fuck. What killed him?"

"We are working that out. He was beaten, stabbed - by three different blades, shot 67 times by five different firearms, only two which we have recovered," Virginia stated. "We also think he was hit by two cars, one dump truck and a subway."

"Well...yeah...Uncle Carrig was looking a bit rough when I answered the door," I confessed.

Lumpy had to have been on a freaking quest to go through all that to get to me. Subway? He was hit by a subway and walked away. Most people barely leave a recognizable corpse.

"How are Odette, Timothy, Casper and Sovann?" I recalled. She looked at her phone.

"They are mostly fine. Casper Winslow was taken to the hospital in shock and was released to her parents," she said.

"The other three were taken to the Emergency Room, treated for minor injuries and released," Virginia informed me. "The other four women were a more delicate manner."

"Four women? Could you be more specific?"

"Your bodyguards."

"Could you be more specific?"

"For a person with supposedly limited financial means, a lower income lifestyle and a humble background, you appear to have a small army hovering around you, high society friends, and lawyers who are on a first name basis with Supreme Court Justices," Virginia noted.

"Lady, half-way through Day Two on this job, I almost gave it all up and biked my ass down to Terra del Fuego to live the sane life of a paranoid recluse," I sighed.

"Why didn't you?"

"Cause I'm an idiot. I was hoping a crackerjack investigator like you would have figured this out by now," I grinned.

"How do you know I'm any good at my job?" she sent a sultry lip twist my way. Yes - pinned to a bed I could still attract the ladies. Having hundreds of little needles in me made the prospects for a quick sexual romp unlikely.

"Javiera chose you for this assignment," I told her. "You have to be a woman because this is Havenstone and you have to be clever because this is a lunatic asylum."

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