tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 30

Life as a New Hire Ch. 30


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

Those who declare war are willing to kill as many as it takes to reach their goal.

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

Thanks to NM for his help with Magyar terminology and titles.

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.

I apologize - No sex this chapter


(The Lowest Moral Denominator)

My first week at Havenstone, I'd biked to work alone on most days and I'd enjoyed that. I'd have treasure it more if I had glimpsed my future. I loved people, not crowds. I knew about violence, yet I had no affection for it. I was a confirmed bachelor. Now I was staring down both barrels of marriage. I had had also become a walking arsenal with a lethal omnipresent entourage.

This situation was so fucked up that I had to stop by Caitlin's place just to see Aya. My favorite sprite gave me a hug and reminded me that I had to do what I could, not worry about what I couldn't do. She was my 9 year old Svengali. She was my little Valkyrie. In truth, she was the only woman knew I loved and that was the love of a father for his daughter.

On the elevator ride up to the penthouse suite of the Midtown Hilton, I thought about Dad. What would Ferko Nyilas do in my shoes? It would be easy for someone who didn't know him to imagine my dad getting up on his high moral horse and telling me to just do the right thing...except that wasn't him. What he'd tell me was to not pass the buck. I had to deal with this, unless I knew someone else who could and would do it better.

It wasn't about 'being a man'; it was being a member of the Human Race. We all pitched in and got the job done, or it didn't get done ... and millions died because we refused to accept any responsibility for what was going on. That was my Dad - 'do what you can' and 'never be afraid to ask for help if you need it'. After the age of ten, he never told me I had to do anything. He'd tell me what needed to be done and leave it at that.

So I wouldn't forget the pictures I knew I'd be seeing before too long - the innocent dead. If the sorrow broke me, it broke me. Until it did, I could not turn away. I had to 'do what I could'. That put me heading to a meeting at three o'clock in the afternoon in the penthouse suite.

After my non-breakfast with Iskender, we had driven straight to Havenstone, where I demanded an immediate, private meeting with Katrina. This wasn't an info-dump and then out the door. No, I was part of the process now - one of those fools who were responsible for the lives of others. Katrina and I had argued about compartmentalizing my terrifying news.

Her reasoning was clear. We were at war with the Seven Pillars. The basis of the 7P strength was China, so anything bad that happened to China was good for the Amazon Host. I nixed that. It was Katrina's job to think about our security. It was mine to juggle how we related to the rest of the planet. Absent the Golden Mare's opposition, Katrina couldn't stop me from doing my job as I saw fit.

The Golden Mare was out of immediate contact, so we moved forward on my proposal. Katrina called Javiera, validated Vincent's call, and then suggested she bring in someone from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Ft. Detrick. Katrina wouldn't tell her why.

I dispatched Delilah to talk to her MI-6 guy while I made my way to Nicole Lawless's law offices. I need to talk to my Aunts. An hour later, I dismissed a somewhat piqued Nicole from the room, then laid out the upcoming crisis to my Mom's clones. I hesitated a minute before dropping the other bomb - Grandpa Cáel was back.

Was I sure? I countered with, "Do you know who Shammuramat was?"

Why, yes they did; Grandpa had a bust of her in his main office.

"Well, she's back, in the flesh and that spells all kinds of problems".

The six aunts present agreed. They invited me to fly to Europe with five of them. Much to their surprise and joy, I agreed. I told them I would be a party of twelve with plenty of firepower. They were less pleased about that.

I exited that scene, only to engage in another, somewhat unrelated, bit of diplomacy. I met with Brooke and Libra for lunch. They brought Casper, who was seeing a specialist in New York and had expressed an interest in seeing me again. Into that volatile mix, I placed my request: 'Could Brooke put up a friend for a couple of weeks while I made other arrangements?'

Yes, this was a 'bizarre' friend. Yes, this was a violently bizarre friend. Yes, she walked around with enough weaponry to scare a seasoned SWAT officer. And yes, she was a mass murderer. Cool..., if I agreed to stop by and see how this 'friend' was doing - and gave Libra advance notice too, then they were fine with it.

Thus Shammuramat - Sakuniyas - Saku became Brooke's roommate. Insane? Not really. Putting Saku inside Havenstone on a regular basis was going to result in a blood bath. Saku was abrasive and she was a criminal in the minds of her 'sisters'. This gave her an 'out', some space and time with a civilized person who she couldn't emotionally bowl over.

If Saku got physical with Brooke, we both understood that House Ishara was going to cancel her return performance. Amazons could defend themselves, so we were fair game for her rude behavior. Brooke couldn't, so she was hopefully out of bounds. Saku had agreed to the arrangement without comment.

She'd already figured out that no other Amazons wanted her around and there simply wasn't room at my place. With that chore done, I was able to see Miyako off before her flight to Tokyo by way of Seattle. Selena was with her, but not going. Miyako did have three Amazons in case things got rough.

The Marda House guard woman looked mature and humorless. Her age wasn't a problem. She was a grandmother, yet if she thought she couldn't keep up, she'd have taken herself to the cliffs before now. It turned out she had been in Executive Services before returning to House Marda. My diplomat ... I didn't know her, but she seemed eager enough. The member of House Ishara was a brand new recruit named Jenna.

She was from Acquisitions and spoke seven Asian languages, including Japanese. She looked absolutely thrilled to be heading off into danger. I instructed the younger two to obey the Mardan. In private, I 'advised' the Mardan that our main mission was to be of aid to the ninja. Information gathering would be secondary. More Amazons were on the way. She gave me a nod.

For this critical mid-afternoon meeting at the Midtown Hilton, Wiesława lead the way off the elevator. Buffy went next, then me and finally Saku. Delilah and Vincent had already arrived with their appropriate factions. Katrina took a separate elevator, with Elsa and Desiree. Pamela was...somewhere. After she'd pointed out a half-dozen people from four different agencies in the lobby, she told me to not wait while she went to the bathroom.

At the door of the Penthouse were two familiar faces from the NYPD, Nikita Kutuzov and her partner, Skylar Montero. When Javiera's investigation followed me to New York, they had been drafted into the taskforce.

"Hey ladies," I smiled. My last meeting with Nikita hadn't gone well.

"Cáel," Nikita smiled back. "How have you been?"

"More trouble than normal," I shook her hand.

"We can tell," Skylar relaxed somewhat. As Nikita's partner, she had to know that our relationship had soured when she started investigating me. Katrina's group came up.

"I think you are the last to arrive," Nikita informed us. This time, Desiree was the first one through the door. I could hear the conversation trail off. Wiesława went next, then Katrina, me, Buffy, Saku and finally Elsa. I decided to toss 'civilized' behavior out the window seconds after entering. Virginia Maddox of the FBI, the initiator of the Amazon children's airlift, was here.

I hugged her and after a moment, she hugged me back.

"Priya says hey and," she blushed slightly, "she's counting the days - all forty-five of them."

"Don't forget - I owe you," I grinned then patted her shoulder. Javiera was next.

"Cáel," she headed my familiarity off. She was a Federal Prosecutor after all.

"This is the head of this taskforce, Jonas Baker (deep breath) Associate Deputy Undersecretary of Analysis for Homeland Security {ADUAHS} (deep breath)." I extended my hand, so he shook it. He looked somewhat annoyed by this whole encounter. Javiera was duly nervous because of his poor initial attitude. The introductions went around.

Half way through it, Pamela showed up...from where, I didn't know. Delilah, her MI-6 boss and the British professional killer Chaz were there, much to the chagrin of the Americans. Vincent was there with Javiera. Cresky was representing the CIA plus there was ATF, ICE, Riki Martin (?) from the State Department and a man in a civil servant's salary suit and a military demeanor - Captain Moe Mistriano.

"Fine," Mr. Baker began. "I hope you aren't wasting our time." His gaze flicked between Katrina and me.

[Old Kingdom Egyptian] "May the Blessed Isis bring understanding to our meeting," I intoned.

"What was that?" Baker turned on me.

"Praying for guidance," I replied. Isis wasn't in the Amazon pantheon, but I could sure use her help at this point. Baker was going from put-out to pissed-off. If that is how they wanted to play it, their choice. "Are you the specialist from Ft. Detrick?" I asked the Captain.

"Yes, I am and I hope this is worth my time as well," he gave me a steady gaze. Oh, I really needed that.

"Anthrax - China," I stated and weighed his response. Oh yeah, I had his attention now ... which meant his bio-warfare unit had some idea about what was happening in China.

"Care to enlighten me?" Baker inquired. He had gauged his medical expert's reactions as well and he didn't like what the biological warfare specialist was not saying.

"Mr. Baker," the Captain decided to go first. "Roughly fifty-five hours ago, we got wind that there was a massive Anthrax outbreak in Western China. Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia and Nei Mongol administrative regions have all reported outbreaks.

"Holy Shit!" Riki Martin gasped. Her dark, whip-like, Hispanic features noticeably paled.

"That sounds suspiciously like bio-terrorism," Jonas Baker turned on me.

"You'd be right about that," I refused to evade. "It is and it is about to get a whole lot worse."

"The PRC has a robust vaccine program," the Captain stated. "That is why they aren't making a public stink about it. They have the problem well under control."

"Damn..." I closed my eyes and lowered my head. In some deep section of my mind, I had fanned the feeble flames of hope that somehow, the Earth & Sky program had derailed. "That is the 'whole lot worse' I was talking about. The terrorists aren't terrorists. They..."

"What do you mean they are not terrorists," Baker snapped. "They..."

"Shut up and let the man speak," Katrina said calmly.

"Who are you again?" he glared at Katrina. "If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem and I'm here to make sure this problem is dealt with. I am not here to play footsie with you. I am going to be asking some tough questions and you had better answer them."

"I'm Cáel's boss," Katrina smiled. "Since we came here to help you and you don't want to let us speak, we are leaving. Cáel."

The Amazons didn't turn and leave. No, we backed up toward the door.

"You can't start talking about an ongoing terrorist threat and then walk out the door," Baker argued.

"Javiera, I apologize," I looked her way. "Mr. Baker, Javiera's a smart cookie. I'm sure she's given you every bit of information that has come across her desk. That means you know we consider ourselves an independent nation-state without borders. You can't intimidate us. We feel no obligation to obey your legal system and we operate internationally," I kept going.

"Now, as we are trying to repay Javiera's kindness in our time of need, you are treating us like criminals currying favors. Blow it out your ass, you pompous bureaucrat" I concluded. "We aren't the problem here."

"If that's the way you want it," he shrugged. "Javiera, arrest them." Pause.

"Sir, you do realize that if I give that order, there is a good likelihood they will resist with force?" Javiera replied calmly. Baker looked around the room.

"We outnumber them and these are law enforcement officers," he insisted. "Now..."

"I wouldn't count on that 'outnumbered' thing," Delilah chimed in.

Chaz and MI-6 dude didn't seem to be onboard with his plan. "I have reason to believe Cáel has information on a highly virulent weaponized Anthrax program. If our US allies aren't interested, Her Majesty's government certainly will be." That did interest the MI-6 senior officer.

"That is all the more reason to put these people into federal custody," Baker stated.

"Then what, Mr. Associate Deputy?" Chaz said. "Are you going to torture them for time sensitive data? In my military service, I've met some truly hard characters. Some people you can put a gun to their child's head and they'll tell you what you want to know. Not this group. They'll memorize your face and wait for a chance to make you pay ... whether you kill the kid, or not."

"That's my read on them as well," Agent Vincent Loire added.

"Mr. Baker, I worked under you when we were both in Counter-terrorism," Virginia spoke up. "I think you are mishandling this. Invoke the Patriot Act and all we get is a roomful of statues. I've fought beside these...Amazons and I'm reaffirming my report to Ms. Castello (Javiera) - they do not believe their behavior is wrong.

At some point in their fifties, they commit ritual suicide. They make their twelve year old daughters fight for their lives. They murder their male infants. Sir, they are an alien society, indoctrinated at birth to believe they are spiritual inheritors of the ancient Amazons mentioned by Homer during the time of the Iliad.

They fanatically believe in a pantheon of goddesses and possess very little inclination for integration. They think they are superior to everyone in this room - except for Cáel - he's an oddity," Virginia pleaded.

"That legion of crimes is yet another reason to arrest them," Baker just wouldn't give up.

"What you have described, Agent Maddox is a right wing nut cult, like the Branch-Davidians at Waco. Arrest them."

"What are the charges?" Javiera's face blanked out.

"Conspiracy to commit terrorist acts; aiding and abetting an international terrorist organization," Baker snapped.

"Everyone, put down your firearms and blades," Katrina ordered. I didn't have the status to give that order except to my own. For that matter...

"Team - disarm," Elsa commanded her Security Detail people. Technically, Katrina couldn't order those girls to forego their primary mission - defend the Host. Out came the guns.

The group of us went over to one wall, put our backs to it and sat down. Pro forma, Virginia, Vincent and the ATF guy drew their firearms. By this time, both Riki and the Captain looked ready to explode.

"Tell us what you know about this terrorist conspiracy and..." Baker said.

"We invoke our Right to Council," I raised my hand.

"You are being charged under the Patriot Act, smart-ass," Baker sneered. "We can hold you indefinitely if we can show a risk to National Security - such as a terrorist attack in China."

"I apologize for dragging you into this," I turned to Katrina. "You too, Saku." Saku shrugged.

"I told you there is no benefit in helping 'these people'," Katrina comforted me. She meant non-Amazons and it was rather sad that it was looking like she was right and I was wrong.

"Unless you want to grow old and grey in Guantanamo, I suggest you start talking now," Baker threatened.

There was no bravado on our part. We didn't zone out, or ignore him. We looked at him the same way we would a yappy dog while continuing to scan the room. Being disarmed didn't make us defenseless. It merely limited our options.

"Sir," Riki tapped Baker.

"If the People's Republic of China finds out we withheld details of a terrorist attack on their soil...that would be BAD - with a capital 'B'."

"I have to call this in," the Captain shook his head.

"Wait until we have active intelligence," Baker said. The Captain completed his call.

"I don't work for you, Sir. I work for the Department of Defense and that man," the Captain pointed at me, "strung two words together he shouldn't have. Now, I don't know any of you people. I was told to come here, so here I am. I do know - Sir - that you are ignoring the advice from your experts about the expected results of standard interrogation techniques.

You are acting on two assumptions which I find to be fictitious," the Captain was clearly furious. "First, you seem to think this won't get out ... and you are wrong. Why? We have no idea who these people have talked with. We can only believe that any person outside of their organization can use that revelation for their own ends. Secondly, you haven't grasped the extent of the emergency.

Chinese citizens are already starting to drop dead as we speak. This variant of Anthrax is highly contagious, fast-acting, and appears to be incredibly fatal. No nation on Earth has enough Anthrax vaccine on hand to protect their entire population...and that still implies that the vaccines we currently have will work on this new bacteria. Need I go on?"

Then Captain Mistriano went back to talking softly with his companions back at Ft. Detrick. The MI-6 chief made his own call. This was his job after all. Before Baker could even start to threaten the Brit, Delilah and Chaz had their guns out, though pointed down. The US law enforcement operatives were far more leery of challenging agents of a friendly foreign power.

"I will make sure to tack on charges for all those deaths you are facilitating," Baker piled it on. "The US government might find it necessary to send you to the People's Republic of China to face charges there. After all, you claim to not be US citizens." None of us responded verbally. We looked at him. We certainly heard him speak, but his 'words' now meant nothing.

Highly annoyed, Baker started the handcuffing process. Nikita and Skylar came in with four more NYPD. The bracelets went on behind our back. Javiera made one more stab at it.

"Katrina - Cáel, please help us," she pleaded. She knew far more than Baker about the cost of this meeting.

The Amazons would withdraw and this war would play out with the US government blind to the key players. Hell, we had been repaying her favor and were ending up in chains. Virginia shared that distress. All the headway she'd made in helping the camp whisk their young to safety was being undone. Both ladies had come to appreciate the risks I had taken to bring our two sides together.

I looked to Katrina for approval before speaking.

"We still respect you, Javiera," I grinned. "You know that once we exit this place, Havenstone is going to implode. I wish it wasn't so, but now we have to look out for ourselves."

"We will see about that as well," Baker grumbled. We had nothing to say.

"Have you lost your FUCKING MIND?" Javiera turned and screamed at him. "I brought these people to you because they said they had vital intelligence to share. They didn't have to - they volunteered because this taskforce has been trying to cultivate them as a source of information on other underground groups."

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