tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 27

Life as a New Hire Ch. 27

byFinalStand©

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

The miracle is not a person jumping into a torrent to save another. It is the dozen who form a chain to pull them both out.

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.

Since the Mycenaean Greeks keep whining like little bitches, I have chosen to ease up on them for the nonce and give the Magyar mythology a credible mangling.


*****

(Right where I left off)

I was the oddity. My antics had only enhanced my allure, especially to the pre-twelve group that stood closest - nineteen pairs of little eyes looking at me expectantly. I swept the crowd with a polite, somewhat shy smile. For the girls from the freeholds, I was most likely a contradiction to everything they'd been taught, or experienced, before now.

The ghastly nightmare slinking around the bright sunshine Aya fanned into radiance by her proximity to my heart was that the male percentage in the Amazon world was plummeting rapidly. Mass executions will do that to a population. We were being efficiently and mercilessly put down and not replaced by the 'normal' means anymore. Every week there were fewer of us around for the children to notice.

Adding to their confusion was that Amazon girls were actively discouraged from forming bonds with any males they did encounter, especially the few still walking around the holds. From what I had gathered from my casual inquiries, the old Amazon male slave population was dwindling to zero fast.

Cultural ruthlessness married to a creeping racial insanity had led to them burning their old lifestyle down before a new one had been raised up. To these little girls, it meant that men were regarded in one of two ways: In their own microcosm, the girls were taught that males were the equivalent of a plow horse they saw wandering about, but they were denied the opportunity to interact with - a lumbering, yet relatively harmless animal.

To girls living an urban lifestyle, there was the constant watchfulness of their family guardians that taught them men were not to be trusted. Men were not some evil that needed to be destroyed. It was more that if they knew about the culture the girls grew up in, the males would crush their elders and steal them away into their chauvinistic malignancy.

Outsider women were viewed the same way because they would rather sleep contentedly in their male-created fantasy of equality than face the reality that life was a constant state of warfare - only things paid for in blood and sweat had value. Outsiders of both genders, by refusing to grasp that truism, were essentially parasites. You didn't kill all leeches. You only dispatched the ones threatening you and yours.

And then there was me. I had to face facts. I had a penis. Even tucked snugly in my cup and shorts, it was the beacon of our differences. That was the starting point of every encounter with a Full-blood Amazon - I wasn't one of them and they had been told to never see my 'kind' in a beneficial emotional context. Amazons were not supposed to have those kinds of relationships with men.

"I've missed you too, '****' '****'," Aya bumped foreheads with me. I was 'a Son of the White Stallion' who 'ran with the herds of Epona'. I was so proud of her. She had woven together a Magyar myth with an Amazon naming convention. Epona, the Celtic Horse Goddess and Aya's matron divinity, was worshiped with the sacrifice of foals - Amazons offered up fillies (female baby horsies) whose spirits ran with the Goddess in the Spirit World.

When the pre-Christian Magyars went to war, they sacrificed a white stallion to entreat their deities to grant them victory. No one was about to slit my throat, or cut my heart out. I was made sacred - a spirit stud in Epona's vast herd of mares. How freakishly accurate.

"I love you for your brains, you know that, don't you?" I whispered to Aya.

"Yes. You are saving up your other love for Mommy," she kinda/sorta teased me. Out of the semi-circle of children, three stood out. More accurately, they were dwarfed by their companions. I took the group's indecision as an offer to advance.

"Hi," I addressed the smallest three members of the audience. "Are you the Fatal Squirts?"

"They are not allowed that name," Sophia interceded. "No Amazon child deserves an acknowledgement before their trial." I half-turned and nodded her way.

"(Cough) '****' '****'," (cough, cough). "Excuse me, please." If she spoke Phoenician, I was boned for being obviously disrespectful of her authority and would have to take whatever punishment Sophia felt I deserved.

Otherwise, I was getting away with binding 'leads to death' to 'blood-death wound' in that ancient and highly extinct tongue: 'fatal - squirts' indeed. Her hand fell on my shoulder.

"I have heard you laugh at death," Sophia remarked. If I was on Zoosk, all you would have to do was type in 'Preference: Amazon Male Who Dares Talk Back' - and there was my smiling mug, all alone, staring back at you.

"Before I confess to anything, do you consider that an asset, or liability," I grinned.

"I withhold judgment," was her reply.

"I don't mean to 'laugh at death'. It is because all the other choices suck and...perhaps I've been called stubborn, bull-headed and 'not having even a passing acquaintance with common sense' a time, or two," I shrugged with my lovely burden curled around my left arm.

"No names - our tradition and my command," Sophia laid down the law. Sigh. I put Aya down. She didn't cause me a hint of trouble because she knew my heart. I unbuckled and handed her my two guns (my Glock-22, and .380). I motioned one of the mini-Amazons forward. She shuffled up to Aya's side and received my two tomahawks.

Not only was no one leaving, the rest of the camp started coming down to see what was about to transpire. In my short stint at Havenstone, I had developed a reputation as an exciting fun-guy/irrepressible troublemaker.

"I feel your decision is founded on misinformation, or your rendering to be unjust," I told Sophia.

"Explain," Sophia requested.

I hadn't disarmed for my sake, or hers. I gave up my weapons to affirm my desire to talk. I placed myself at my sister's mercy - thus expressing my trust in her. Amazons are not savages, just violently inclined.

Later, Pamela would remind me that my behavior was precisely what Isharans were supposed to do - seek peace.

"Aya has taken a position as intern with Executive Services at Havenstone," I explained. "She held my position and served effectively for four days with good work reviews from the head of the department herself," I added.

"She has served in a caste, been assigned duties by members of that caste, performed errands and accomplished all that was asked of her. Doesn't that create an allowance for Aya...as she has been considered for a caste?" I was fishing for an excuse based on my instincts for these people.

"She has never been selected, chosen and been anointed to a caste, so her preliminary experience does not qualify," Sophia said after a few seconds of introspection. "Next?"

"She has charged forth into battle on my behest." The archery range.

"You were not an acknowledged member of the Host when that happened. Next?"

"She's tried to kill me," I tossed out there.

"What?" many exclaimed.

"NO!" Aya gasped.

"When did this occur?" Sophia's eyes twinkled.

"At the archery range. She shot at me twice," I responded.

"She was practicing," was the counter. "Next?"

"Not next," I smiled. "I didn't have permission from anyone to step beyond the shooting line.

In doing so, I accepted all calls to combat. Both Leona and Aya shot at me. Aya shot twice and came close once. Leona only hit me after I gave myself up to protect three Amazon children."

Pause.

"Okay. Aya has served in combat, no matter how one-sided..." Sophia began.

"I was armed for part of the fight," I interrupted hurriedly. Aya's first arrow.

"Accepted. You were a viable combatant before that as witnessed by other Amazons in earlier encounters. She and another Amazon shot at you without any other claiming traditional ownership of you," Sophia nodded. The Leader had given me a 'bye' on my intern status.

"Aya may bear an honorific," Sophia loudly proclaimed her change in course. To Amazons, screwing up was a distant third to not owning up to what you did and not learning from your mistakes. Besides, I could tell Sophia was warming up to me...as a male and an Amazon.

"My war band?" Aya chirped.

"You do not have a war band, Aya Epona...but whatever name you use among yourselves is not a matter I will concern myself with," Sophia stated firmly. "Fifty days, Cáel." That was the end of it. Sophia turned and began walking uphill, conflict successfully resolved.

The Fatal Squirts had emerged with a semi-official status, I had emerged without a new series of wounds and I had wrangled forth a small down payment for all the love and loyalty Aya had showered on me.

"Best Daddy in the World!" Aya shouted. "Mamitu! Mamitu!" Destiny.

Amazons weren't huge believers in luck. They put their faith in training, planning, experience and diligence. For them, victory was a matter of destiny. Let the sloppy, treacherous Greeks invoke 'Nike' - Victory, or 'Tyche' - Luck for tossing them a positive outcome in battle. My side weren't thankful for the win they deserved.

They acknowledged Mamitu had, through foresight, prepared the Host for what had to be done. For Aya, it was destiny that had put me in her path; she and her sisters trained for the hostage scenario multiple times, so she was a logical choice for my training. She had been training with the bow when I was giving her the inner strength and confidence to hit the target.

Training, not mutual good fortune, put her at the range to make that shot. Whatever part luck played, that bolt that had saved my life and paved the way for Aya's rise to leadership had been a part of her training as well. Amazons didn't deny luck, nor did the put any trust in it.

"Hi, so who are the rest of you?" I addressed the Fatal Squirts while rearming.

"I am Mosa Oya," the tomahawk holder identified herself.

"I am..." the third member got out before we were propelled back into that 'never too distant' No-Man's Land. A girl, a stranger in her early teens, came up and shoved Aya hard.

"You are nothing special," the older girl growled at my buddy. My 'daughter' barely avoided sprawling in the dust.

The intensity was palatable. Aya had no chance of beating this girl. Not only did her opponent have every physical advantage, she had three buddies as well - correction: two buddies and a twin sister. Amazons built lifetime bonds around these foursomes. Aya and company backed down, despite her obvious shame. She had just won an honorific as a child - unheard of before this. It was Amazon tactical thinking, not fear, that ruled Aya's mind. I was so proud of her.

"What's your name?" I inquired congenially of the newcomer. She flashed me a look of anger laced with teenage hormones, then turned and stormed away...actually, she only started to storm away. Her behavior had played right into my hands. I was an adult. She wasn't a full-fledged member of the Host, nor was she a child anymore. I had asked her a question and she had been disrespectful to me. Her bad. Still, I doubted anyone expected my leg sweep.

The bully hit the ground hard - no rolling with the blow for her. My foot smashing down on her diaphragm drove the fight right out of her. I wasn't done. The twin rushed in - my thunderbolt left sent her flying back from whence she came. Amazons despise child abuse as cruel and socially cancerous, yet no one else was rushing in to stop me.

Even her other two friends were obeying both basic Amazon battle philosophy and conduct. Two young teens versus me was stupid...and I wasn't alone. I had four Squirts plus two other women close by who saw nothing wrong with a cooperative pummeling. I lifted my foot a centimeter from the girl's chest.

"Let's try this again," I spoke softly. "I am Cáel Ishara. You have disparaged my house by putting your back to me after I, an adult, politely addressed you. In fifteen seconds your sin will pass beyond your ability to address and your actions will be viewed as your family's unwarranted insult. My sisters will seek vengeance against your sisters with the added advantage that your sisters won't know what's going on. Now, what's your name?"

See, I could have gone straight to Step Two - the House on House vengeance. Me kicking her ass was merciful because after five, or six members of her house were jumped, one at a time by three, or four, of mine, those ladies were going to be truly curious why their youngster had been so fucking rude in front of so many fucking Amazons to the HEAD of a fucking First House.

'Honorific' Aya still had no status except that of a child. Dumb Bunny was passed her 12th year test, so she was of her House, thus the insult. Despite my 'fantasy' assumption of the role of grunt, everyone knew that Cáel Cabbage-head was Cáel Ishara, Head of House Ishara. I was the only accepted male Amazon in existence, the only possessor of a 'five o'clock shadow' in camp, I was armed and I was so armed while walking among their children.

She could not have possibly mistaken me for another. Her eyes showed that truism too. Her wrathful 'how dare that male!' morphed into 'oh fuck, my older sisters are going to be tossed down stairwells, jacked up in parking garages and they were going to be caught totally flat-footed when it happens...and it is all my (the girl's) fault'.

In theory, St. Marie could deny my feud (we were at war), or warn the girl's house of my request...but why would she? The crime couldn't have been more obvious and the Amazons were way past making harmful shit up about me.

"Zarana...Zarana of House Inara," she gasped.

I switched foot placement, pivoted, reached down to arm-clasp my left with her left and ended with me pulling her effortlessly to a standing position.

"A pleasure to meet you Zarana Inara. I am Cáel Ishara, but you may call me Cáel if you wish," I gave her my award winning smile. "No one will ever doubt your courage in my presence," I added.

'Lead with the left jab, then catch them with the right hook'. As true in interpersonal relationships as in boxing. I had beaten her handily seconds ago and now I was applauding her bravery. Again, I wasn't a Head of House calling attention to her virtue...but I was.

"Your sister shares your warrior's heart."

"I...I...I don't know what came over me..." she started to give me a respectful head-nod. I hooked a finger under her chin to stop her.

"Are you going to reconsider your approach for dealing with a male Amazon, Zarana of Inara?" I bridged the awkward moment. Bing! I had turned a humiliation into a learning moment.

"Yes," she smiled at me. "Yes Cáel Ish... Cáel."

"I swear by the All-Mighty, if I find this one crawling into your sleeping bag, I'm going to be very disappointed in you," Delilah ambushed me. Wa-ha?

"Oh, come on!" I protested. "She's thirteen."

"Fourteen," the other twin, bleeding lip and all, puffed herself up.

"Not helping..." I looked at the twin.

"Vaski," she supplied. What?

"Vaski? Really? That was Grandmother's name - it is Magyar-Finnish," I wondered.

"We are almost related," she conjured the improbable out of the impossible.

"No you are not, young lady," Delilah serpentined her way to the front of the crowd. "You are not family now and you can't attempt to be for four more years."

"Who would you be?" Zarana challenged Delilah. Man, those two kids were spunky.

"An honored guest," Priya provided. "I hope another lesson in manners will not be necessary."

"I'll do my best," I volunteered. Priya had been addressing the twins; not me. Taking the hit was a bit of comedy to diffuse the moment.

"Some of you need to eat," a camp counselor stated. Another crisis down and the sky wasn't even dark yet.

"Cáel!" and here we went again. Thank you, Ishara, it was Europa, the strange one - meaning the one I understood the most.

(Night and Day)

This place kept getting more and more wonderful. There was one safe road that rolled out of the camp's front gate (there was no wall - the gate was ceremonial) and disappeared off toward the closest state road. Scheduled trips were made to the closest blip on the census data where they bought stuff (irrelevant) and were 'seen' by the locals (the important thing).

If anyone investigated, there was a legitimate summer camp 'out there'. The counselors weren't friendly, but they worked with 'troubled' kids, so keeping the small talk to a minimum was excusable. Sure, they only saw women - usually the same ones each trip during a given summer. The camp held nearly a thousand people, so the all-female thing was dismissed as a quirk.

That was the second layer of deception. We had already learned that the first layer was the idea of a camp for girls in the foster care system. The third layer was all the visible 'props'. This went beyond the typical craft centers, juvenile obstacle courses, and a dozen other distractions. (The only 'real' one was the stables. Amazons loved riding horses and being assigned to tend to their care was a high honor.)

Thirty meters inside the gate was a bridged gulch. After dark, the bridge supports were removed turning a clear shot into the center of camp into a waiting death trap. If there was any doubt, the gulch, so comforting and protective, was a blast zone as well - designation: The Barbecue Pit. I couldn't find it, but I was sure there was an altar somewhere to the matron goddess for this summer camp, the Goddess Paranoia.

The sleeping quarters for everyone? More props. Campers would go in, mill around for ten minutes, then curl up on their bed...the ones that warmed up to 98F/36.7C degrees in the shape of human bodies. Then the campers went down the shafts beneath their bunks and dutifully shuffled along the one meter high underground tunnels to their mesa-based domiciles. Again, once in the cliff-side barracks, they had two chimneys, a tunnel back to the dorm building and a cleverly designed, nearly invisible front exit to choose from.

Pamela took it in stride, Delilah was a bit peeved by the 'excessive' security. Virginia...we'd already dragged her through her dorm tunnel to her cave to sleep it off. For me...the tunnel's dimensions made it a tight fit. Amazons can be pretty strong, but they don't have shoulders as wide as mine, nor are they normally over a meter/eight (six feet for us Yankees).

I would have complained, except I had a sneaking suspicion that Pamela had a trowel to give me so I could 'widen up' a twenty to forty meter stretch of tunnel the moment I opened my mouth. As the last portion of the instructional tour, we were directed to get our grub before it was gone because the sadistic chefs loved to watch the eight year old workhouse orphans fight over who got to lick the pot instead of starving.

Not really. The victuals were actually very good. I had hopes of more bonding time with my Epona ladies, yet no sooner had I cleaned my tin plate and dinnerware, I found someone else who craved my attention - Sophia. She was hot for my touch and by that I meant she wanted to punch and kick me around for a bit, all in the name of fun.

"Since you are my guest, I will let you choose our weapons," Sophia decided.

"I choose hyperbole," I gracefully flowed from sitting with one leg down and the other bent to standing.

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