tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 26

Life as a New Hire Ch. 26


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

The miracle is not that children grow up. It is they want to come home afterwards.

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

There is a bit of mangling of the Iliad going on. I apologize to Homer and the countless singers before him who carried the Iliad down through the dark centuries until the Greeks figured out how writing works.


(The Four Days)

I was still in New York when the Council convened, but I had to leave before all the key matters could be settled. Despite some of Buffy's objections, "we" (meaning me) and House Ishara had decided that switching up leaders in the midst of the upcoming pivotal events would make matters worse, not better. Daphne pledged to me, to Buffy, to the Isharan ancestors and to Ishara herself to give true, diligent and continuous service until I, Buffy, or Helena dismissed her.

She would be Buffy's social eyes and ears, as well as her translator and voice. I imagined that translating for Buffy would be 'creative' at times. An added oddity was that Buffy insisted on being called '****', which meant 'First' instead of '****' which was the traditional 'apprentice'.

Krasimira okayed it. The term 'First' had been used before in Council. Its meaning was a bit different though. 'First' implied a deep, romantic relationship with the Head of House that included possessing insight into the Head's mindset. Buffy thought the title fitted her perfectly.

"Best to keep those bitches at bay from the get-go," Buffy snarled.

It was difficult to keep my head and heart from becoming unsettled over what transpired as I packed for my trip to see Aya. No one on Hayden's list ran. No Head of House said 'fuck you' and barricaded herself and hers in some holding and dared the sisters to come get her. They awaited the convening of the Council, showed up and silently took their seats.

There was no opening song. The Leader was not there to begin it. As the first order of business, St. Marie stood and related the how's and where's of Hayden's demise. With that brief preamble, she read off the list of names. The condemned stood when their names were called, drew forth their blades and sheared off long locks of their hair, declaring their 'House-less' status.

SD members roughly seized them - they were nothing more than traitors to the race by that point - and dragged them into the hallway where two separate Security Detail women put two bullets in their hearts. A quick, thorough and efficient way to deal with the trash. I had been told their bodies would be cremated. Their skulls would be maintained only for the purpose of genealogical study.

In the Council chamber, Krasimira reaffirmed the relevant Amazon legal code provisions. The Golden Mare would direct the Host until a Regency Council could be formed. Only then did St. Marie and Krasimira begin the meeting's invocation. Buffy cried and she wasn't alone. A full third of the Council had new faces and a terrifying shift in direction had been established.

No, the echoes of gunfire had not made the new House Heads proponents of men and 'Runners'. What those women were looking at was the deathly reality that defying those two forces was treason. Hayden had established that. And by taking her own life, she had charted a path the rest could not deviate from. Based on what I learned from Katrina, Beyoncé, Daphne and Krasimira, the shift started out gradually, then became a roaring current.

Issue One was not the Regency Council - it was war. They acknowledged it; they affirmed the Epona/Ishara initiative of creating alliances with the United States Federal government (Javiera), the 9 Clans and the Earth & Sky. They formally directed the Host's efforts to the destruction of the 7 Pillars and Condotteiri. After all, resolution by the obliteration of one's foes was standard practice.

The justification was the Condotteiri's murder of three members of the Security Detail and of Ferko Nyilas of Ishara by way of Vranus (he was on the Rolls for all eternity now) and the Seven Pillars' attempted murder of Temujin, the Supreme Khan of the Earth & Sky and retroactively an ally to the Host. That statement was more for the Earth & Sky as a symbol of Amazon dedication to the task at hand than a clerical matter for themselves. But like my Father, Temujin's life was elevated to something of value in their eyes.

If the Amazons felt you were a threat, they rarely argued about it and half those arguments happened after the fact. The second the Condotteiri soldiers fired on the clearly identified SD leader at my Burnham home, the war option was on the table. That Council decision was tidying up the issue in case it became historically significant later. After all, not being tidy 2500 years ago had led to 'Me'.

The most critical part of those two votes (declaring war on the Condotteiri and on 7 Pillars) was the reminder the Host needed to pay attention to their core values - self-defense and protection of their young. An eye opening moment took place during one of the breaks when Kohar Marda - Ursula's former apprentice, now Head of House, approached Buffy.

According to Daphne (Buffy was contemplating being attacked), the surrounding conversations muted. Kohar politely asked for a meeting with Buffy to discuss the qualifications Ishara used for selecting inductees. Runners! The successor to the Amazon who had sent Leona to assassinate me was now asking how to add 'Runners' to her house.

Mysticism may have played its part. Respect for Hayden's final appeal to alleviate her shame played a role too. In my mind, the ultimate factor was that this was a practical choice made by a lethally practical race. War meant deaths. Every House knew the ages of their young, thus the rate at which their numbers would be naturally replenished and what forces they needed to put forth as the conflict raged on. The answer to meeting their strategic obligations was the 'Runners'.

Kohar had stepped forward first for a more personal reason. Ursula had been in the forefront of what now was derogatorily referred to as the Cult of Blood Purity - undeniable treasonous thinking. Shame drove Kohar. Ursula had died house-less, but lived and ruled as a Mardan. Only a heartfelt repudiation of Ursula's policies could diminish the burden of Mardan guilt. Kohar had to go first.

The rest of the Council wasn't busting down Ishara's door in a rush to follow Kohar's example. That didn't matter. The glass ceiling the Host had been stomping down on the heads of 'Runners' for fifty years had shattered. The final act of tragedy, in my mind, was that the glory of that moment would go to House Ishara, not House Anahit. She was my ancestor now, not Sydney's or Marilynn's.

When the Amazons looked back on history, Hayden Ishara had given her all for her people, changing the very direction of the Host's lifeblood. She would stand exalted with our greatest heroines...bearing my name. From everyone's evaluation but Buffy's, my First did a wonderful job being fierce and polite in an equal, measured and deserved manner. Katrina even hinted that some of the Council leaders preferred a less-effective me to be at the next meeting.

(On the Road to Aya)

For me, the diplomacy revolved around Delilah and Virginia...I had already fallen on my knees and begged Odette to let me go see Aya 'alone'. A few sexual-charged hours later, she agreed. That left four choices for the role of my two agents. They wanted to go 'as is'. Rachel informed them they would be murdered in-flight and their bodies tossed out over a convenient body of water.

Rachel felt that the only reasonable course of action was for them to not come. That way the two could live a few more weeks. However, she would settle for stripping them down, doing a full body scan and then sealing them naked in airtight coffins (with a suitable amount of oxygen) for the journey. I suspected they might still slip out the baggage compartment somewhere between takeoff and landing.

I cut through the clash of egos and made the final decision. Delilah and Virginia would be stripped and thoroughly examined. Initially I had the chore. Rachel was deeply suspicious of my true intentions. Freed of any electronic devices and with their weaponry in my keeping during the trip, they would be blindfolded as we made it to Aya without bloodshed.

They applauded my wisdom by roundly refusing my decision. Pamela was of no help. Ten minutes into it, I informed them I was going alone - completely alone. They laughed, snorted and chuckled. Rachel reminded me that I didn't know where to go. I lied and told her that Katrina had given me the coordinates for the super-secret juvenile, all-feline [yes, I meant cats], survival training school.

Fine, they would just keep me under constant surveillance. I responded by assuring them that despite my lack of spy-like abilities, I would escape and get to relive my Summer Camp experience with the only woman who respected my Demigod-like combat status. Their laughter hurt my feelings. Pamela stepped up and told the room they could either respect my compromise, or she would help me evade them.

It was even more depressing to see the room full of women who had previously been mocking me suddenly 'snap to' and quickly agree to my earlier suggestions.

"It is okay," Pamela told me softly as the actual mechanics of my vacation were figured out by others. "I didn't want to play Bill Munny to your Ben Logan."

Pamela's eyes flared brighter than any phoenix's rebirth. She'd stumped me.

"The Unforgiven, my Son," she patted my cheek. "It is a western made in 1992 starring Clint Eastwood, recast masterfully by 'Yours Truly' and...we need to work on you making a convincing Morgan Freeman."

"Doesn't Freeman end up in a pinewood box in the first third of the movie?" Virginia mused.

"I didn't want to dishearten him," Pamela grinned. To me. "He ran off alone and got himself killed."

"I was what...not even a year old when that movie came out," I responded with indignation.

"You've never heard of Block Busters, Netflix, Redbox, Dish, Hulu, or late night, Spanish language television?" Pamela snickered.

"I only watch Univision for their sports coverage," I countered.

"You mean for those sexy female sports announcers," Delilah chuckled. That earned her a 'well duh' look from all the other women.

"Before I consent to the strip search and inevitable follow-up anal probe, are we really going to be in a situation that requires us to fight this time?" Virginia asked.

"We should be perfectly safe," Rachel responded.

"Check - bring extra ammo," Virginia nodded.

"Good for you, Ms. Maddox," Pamela winked. "One day there is hope your life will have some meaning to me."

"Great," Special Agent Maddox muttered, "now I have to think of what to get her for Christmas." We all laughed. Christmas was such a long way away.

We packed up, rode to a private airfield near Doebridge, learned that SD was smarter than the rest of us, boarded our flight, and then finally entered US airspace from there. Around Ohio, a thought occurred to Maddox.

"If we were somehow forced to land and have the plane searched, how bad would it be?" she requested of Rachel.

"Bad enough that we have a better chance of fighting our way free than seeing freedom before dying in prison," Rachel answered calmly.

"Hmmm...Rachel, if something like that happened...how many parachutes do we have?" Delilah joined in.

"Enough. Mona rides down with Cael because he's a virgin," Rachel stated.

"Oh! Come on Rachel," I fell down on my knees. "Can't I bungee jump it?"

"Luv," Delilah snorted. "If the drop didn't kill ya, the bounce back would snap you in two."

"Cáel, we are at thirty thousand feet," Tiger Lily giggled. "You are more likely to end as a streamer than a pancake." An Amazon giggle - a most joyous noise.

"Rachel, I have been unkind," Virginia confessed. "Cáel is so personable and so dead set on getting himself killed. I had no idea your assignment was so herculean."

"Acknowledged," Rachel said, "and we don't use 'that' word." Hercules was Greek too.

"We have it worse," Delilah patted Maddox on her shoulder. "We must obey some sort of legal code that doesn't allow us to preemptively save him."

"We must too," Rachel gave a depressive sigh. "Her," she pointed at Pamela.

"Hey," Pamela pouted. "I'm more a force for vigilante justice than a team player. I ride alone."

"Alone?" I took a quick headcount and added our Amazon pilot. "I count ten, Lone Phaser."

"Am I included in that count?" Miyako yawned from under her blanket. "This jet lag is killing me."

"Where did she come from?" Virginia hopped up.

"She was here when we boarded," I told her. "I searched her, I swear."

"Yes he did," Miyako gave a sleepy, Hello Kitty smile. She'd 'searched' me too.

"I bet you did," Rachel glared at me...then Pamela...then me again since I was the titular boss.

Thankfully we all 'bought a vowel', played a card in Clue, and shared an Inspector Clouseau moment. The gang settled down for a nap. Sleeping was not complicated. Rachel, as my bodyguard, slept beside me. The airplane's touchdown was so flawless I had to be shaken to alertness. Did I fall asleep? More on that later.

It would have been better if Virginia hadn't figured out our pilot had violated numerous FAA regulations...like dropping below radar at one remote airport then sailing along for an unknown number of kilometers at nape of the Earth until we reached our final destination (This is great in date flicks, btw. It convinces the girl that we should 'live in the moment'/screw as much as possible.)

We weren't there yet, of course. That level of un-convoluted thinking would have been an Amazon indicator of senility. Being a male Amazon, I was immune to such considerations - that meant I was always nuts in their regard, but they chose to humor me. Our plane had to park in a camouflaged hangar before we were allowed to disembark.

I concluded we must be getting close to our desert gulag/re-education center as the sharp glare of sunlight was accompanied by an equally heartless glare of hostility rolling forth from our waiting all-terrain vehicle caravan. Thank goodness Rachel had the foresight to bring sunscreen for the passel of us. I swallowed the bitter realization I'd lost a $1000 bet concerning our landing zone with Virginia (a Temperate Rainforest) and Delilah (the American Southwest). In retrospect, betting on the site of 'Camp Rock' wasn't my smartest wager.

The Brit made off with $2000 of our money and she wanted to be paid in Euros. That's €778 from me, you offspring of those who didn't have the courage to cross the Atlantic 100 years ago. Neither Virginia nor I really cared. With the level of violence about to escalate, it was all looking like 'funny' money to us. I didn't share my misery. Our Welcome Wagon ladies hardly looked sympathetic, or all that opposed to utilizing scalping as a valid debating tool.

They didn't view this moment as just a bad thing - me showing up. My arrival was apocalyptic: #1 - a man. #2 - with a member of another secret society. #3 - #2 was a professional assassin. #4 and #5 - two more outsider women. #6 - an unscheduled visit... as in 'the camp guardians hadn't been given six months to plan out all contingencies'. And you think your daycare takes its security seriously?

"Cáel Ishara," the curt, mega-harsh bitch addressed me in English. As the other seven women dismounted from the four Jeep Wranglers (Delilah enlightened us), it was obvious they were well armed and armored, right and ready to provide some extra-curricular para-military fun. "Welcome," and 'oh please tear out one or two of my fingernails you Ginormous Pain in my ass' she greeted the exalted me.

[OKH] "I am '****'," which I hoped meant 'I had shed blood in battle with sister Aya'. "No other name means more to me right now." Ah...the lovely jerk that full-blooded Amazons gave the first time they heard a male speak their tongue. The slot machine of her intellect kicked into high gear. No arm grasp was coming my way. I almost forgot.

[OKH] "The outsiders are to remain armed as guests of House Ishara." That command was crucial. When/if I got my way with my first request, I was going to be rendered 'one of the girls'.

[OKH] "If that is your wish. (Evil grin) Grab your bags and make it snappy," the woman ordered. "I don't like any extended activity at this airfield."

"Ladies, let's hurry up and get our bags," Pamela barked. "You too, you hairless ape." That would be me, if there was any question. The Super-friendly camp counselors, with their slung FN P90's, didn't lift a finger to help us. Miyako flounced around without a care in the world. Pamela...eh, there were only eight of them. Three of my SD group were cautious while the pilot was already effecting her refueling and departure.

Rachel shot one of the guardians a look I perceived to be friendly. A double-take elucidated things. She was Rachel's younger sister and had already been updated on my bona fides.

[OKH] "Male, you are agreeable to the eye," Rachel's sister fired off. Three whole seconds.

[OKH] "Why thank you. I run faster than you would think, thankfully heal even faster and have the venerated outdoor skills of Bigfoot," I smiled.

The seven other ladies weren't sure what to make of that jocularity.

[OKH] "A very, very young Bigfoot," Rachel corrected.

[OKH] "There is nothing wrong with the size of his feet," Tiger Lily added to the fun. And then all the homicidal fanatics chuckled.

Pamela's whispered translation brought a subdued, yet similar reaction from the non-Amazon contingent. Sure, the new group knew about the New Directive, my fun encounters which I equated to my life and death struggle in those earlier days, my rise to house leadership, Constanza's blinding, the grenade launcher episode and the totality of my last confrontation with Hayden. Amazons are some hard-ass bitches.

As we were loading up the jeeps, the leader tapped me on the shoulder with some force - in the same way a teacher catches an unruly student's attention.

"What was sex with an augur like? My name is Caprica Mielikki."

"Out of respect for your authority, I will answer this personal question that is really none of your business," I looked down a good ten centimeters at her. No fear.

"It was beautiful...like every other woman I have had the treasured pleasure to have sex with," I continued. My reply's undercurrent was simple: I am not a House Head while I'm here. I am an Amazon, not a slave, or outsider male.

"Did you suffer stigmata?"

"Yes. To be fair, I was also having intercourse with her personal guardian at the same time. I'm not sure where to lay the blame, or importance," I inhaled her rugged fragrance.

"Both?" a different camp counselor questioned.

"As I told you, he has a really big and craftily-wielded foot," Tiger Lily teased.

[OKH] "And he is banned from having sex with any Amazon women for fifty more days," Pamela reminded them. Miyako, Delilah and Maddox weren't involved so were left uninformed of that detail. That bludgeoning innuendo dealt with, off to camp we went. Our journey was a pleasant diversion, punctuated by our trail, or lack thereof.

The jeeps split up once we hit the aerial cover of the desert pines. At that point, every rock, shrub, tree and loose bit of debris revealed its God-given mission in life was to kill us. I kept telling myself that surely our Amazon driver abhorred suicide as much as I frowned on vehicular manslaughter as a means of me dying.

Failing to believe that left me with tuck, duck and roll and that death-defying move would leave me lost and waterless...somewhere. I would have thought 'somewhere without cell reception', but none of our mobile devices had made the trip - despite a valiant effort at skullduggery by Special Agent Maddox and some highly creative types back at the Hoover Building.

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