tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 32

Life as a New Hire Ch. 32


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

'Here be Dragons' wasn't always a tourist gimmick.

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.


(Vizsla and links to the past)

The driver stopped at a rustic roadside inn. It had been an uncomfortable three hour drive to the East-Southeast of Budapest and even Pamela seemed to have lost her bearings. Our luggage had been placed in the bonnet (trunk), but we kept our duffels - with our weaponry - on our laps the entire trip. Selena, Pamela and I were squeezed into the back seat, while Alkonyka sat up front with our amiable driver. He was full of interesting tips, jokes and local legends. If he wanted us to forget he was part of a company of killers, he failed.

Selena ignored me. Instead, she tried to engage Pamela in conversation three times over the course of the trip. Each time, Pamela responded with chilly disdain. That left Selena a tad bit grumpy by the time we stopped.

"Leave your weapons," Selena demanded. This clearly wasn't the Kazakhstan consulate. This was the ass-end of nowhere with Black Hand all around. Pamela and I left our duffels outside the vacated car, stretched out some kinks and began handing our personal weapons over to the driver and Selena.

"Is that everything?" our driver smiled. Alkonyka was coming around to our side. She gave up my spare Glock-22 that I had given her and her father's Special Forces knife.

"No," I answered. "We have a ceremonial dagger. To take that is a terrible insult." He motioned us to give them over and I did. Pamela's followed mine two second later.

"Only him," Selena directed me to the front door of the inn. I looked to Pamela. We both shrugged.

"Alkonyka, relax," I smiled at my latest female of interest. "I'll either be back soon or the snipers hiding about the place will kill you so fast, you won't notice." Blink. I wasn't joking.

As my eyes were adjusting from the bright day outside to the inn's dark interior, two men patted me down. I obviously hadn't been lying about disarming, but they did have me remove my light ballistic vest - it was way too hot for my duster. I suspected that they wanted me to get redressed, so I put my shirt back on, unbuttoned, and then added my jacket...I took my time since they were both being dicks.

Finally, they allowed me to walk into the bar proper. Sure enough, a mid-to-late 50ish woman was sitting at a round table in the back. Halfway to her table, I deviated, jumped over the bar, and poured myself a nice German lager. Stein in hand, I walked her way.

"I didn't say you could have a drink," the Vizsla commented.

"Oh, my apologies," I shrugged. I put the stein on a nearby table and waited.

"Have a seat," she directed. I came up to her table and examined the three empty chairs. I held back until she pointed to the chair opposite her. I sat down, but didn't make eye contact. Instead, I examined the various paintings and photographs on the walls. It was an old place.

"You killed Matthias, even though you knew he worked for me," she uttered.

"I can confirm that information to be correct," I looked her way. That... wasn't what she expected.


"Why what?" I countered. There was a method to my madness; this was going to be a lesson in competence, and what happens when you don't respect it.

"Why did you kill Matthias?"

"I needed a reason?" I tried to look pensive. "Maybe I didn't like the cut of his facial hair?"

"Do you think this is a joke?" she replied dryly. "The Black Hand always avenge our own."

"Damn," I looked perplexed. "No one told me that when I arrived. Can we call Matthias's extermination a 50/50 bad call, both ways?"

"Matthias was my cousin," the Vizsla continued.

"My condolences," I sighed. "The next Black Hand douche-bag the Amazons waste, I'll have them ask if he's related to you first. How's that?"

"You are so not likely to have that opportunity," she pointed out.

"Oh," I laughed, "you are so wrong about that."

"You are far stupider than I had been informed," the Vizsla's eyes narrowed.

"Nope. You and your cast of 'Dumb and Dumber' have been treating us like idiots since we touched down at Ferenc Liszt International, so I'm pretending to be that simpleton sock-puppet just for you, Vizsla. You've added to that by heaping disrespect and derision on my people," I grinned.

"You tried to have me and my entourage murdered and Matthias paid the price for that. Everyone knows I'm here. And after your bungled attempt to have me killed, no one is going to believe you did anything but murder me, if I don't show up eventually. Now do you prefer the stupid me, or the brighter than normal me?"

"If you think acting like a smart-ass is somehow endearing, you are mistaken," she let me know.

"Whatever," I shrugged. "You called this meeting. What do you want?"

"Beyond killing one of my lieutenants, I wanted to know what you are doing here?" she studied me.

"I would like to leave now. I'm wasting my time here," I responded.

"I want answers," she pressed.

"You have been given the answers to both your talking points - Matthias died because of your orders and I am here looking for three lost Amazon bloodlines," I replied.

"That seems bizarre," the Vizsla expressed her doubts.

"Bizarre? You are talking to the sole male Amazon House Head in three thousand years," I reminded her. "Besides, you only just now finished telling me how the Black Hand look after their own. The Amazons are the same way; we have lost kin who need to be made aware of their background."

"What do we do about Matthias?" the Vizsla asked.

"In all honesty, had he not personally threatened to stab a member of my team, I would have settled for kicking the crap out of him. He put a knife to Ms. Martin's throat. That assured his death sentence. I think the Host will be willing to accept my hypothesis that Matthias was acting on his own initiative, which should settle the matter."

And just like that, the expediency of the Black Hand shown forth. The truth of the matter was that he had acted on the Vizsla's orders. Unfortunately, that would have meant my side would have come after the Vizsla and she would have had to avenge his death - lots of needless bloodshed. So Matthias posthumously became a rabid dog gone rogue and one who ended up crossing the wrong people. No vengeance required by anyone. We could get back to business.

"That is settled. So, what do you want from your new allies?" the Vizsla inquired. A certain level of cold-blooded ruthlessness had been required to achieve her spot in the Black Hand. Likewise, honesty was the best policy when dealing with casually lethal people. They didn't like self-important asses wasting their time.

"I need to find an individual named 'Branko'. He has kidnapped a young lady who is one of our lost Amazons. We don't require any aid, but if you could leave Selena with us, it would be appreciated," I requested.

"What are you going to do when you catch up with this 'Branko'?" she questioned.

"I'd like to say I am going to buy her back, but I think we both know that is a pipe-dream. He's not going to like me interfering in his business, so I'm going to kill him ... and any other bastards who are in close proximity," I confessed. She studied me for over a minute.

"Do you wish a piece of advice?" the Vizsla said.

"Of course," I nodded. It cost me nothing to acknowledge her vastly superior experience.

"Take a step back," she advised. Seeing that I didn't understand, "If you recall every single death by your hand, you will go mad. You don't possess the detachment of a true killer, Cáel. Not every member of the Black Hand is an assassin.

Your driver, Josef, is from a long line of Black Hand members. He doesn't have what it takes to get close and personal in order to kill a human being, so he drives and provides security. He still matters and serves a necessary function." That was almost nice of her. The advice was based on her decision to keep me around as a useful tool. Going nuts would derail that.

"There is the life we wish to lead, and the life we must lead, Vizsla," I recalled. There was so much there, whirling around in my skull, it took me all this time to find the link I was looking for. Recall every single death by my hand... "On January 26th, 1847, the Black Hand Chapter House of the Wolf in Verona was wiped out - there were no survivors."

"If you say so," she regarded me oddly.

"Yeah, look into it. Then come back to me when you have the right questions," I stood up. "And 'Branko'?"

"I will relay information on this individual to Selena. We should have something by the time you get back to Buda..." she got out before one of the bodyguards came running our way.

He had his H&K MP-5 out and was in deep conversation with his ear piece.

[Hungarian] "Our two spotters failed to respond correctly," he told the Vizsla. She gave me another quick once over.

"My people?" I rose slowly.

The Vizsla gave the man a subtle hand gesture. Seconds later, pushing Alkonyka ahead of them, Pamela, Selena and Josef came running through the door. Pamela and Selena had our duffels. Two more Black Hand materialized from a back room.

The Black Hand was actually a small outfit. Each Chapter had two or three houses, each with four or five true assassins and maybe six times that in support personnel/recruits in each location. That meant the entire Black Hand organization numbered less than 1000. They had several thousand peripheral contacts across their sphere of Europe and they could purchase some sort of private security given time. But their best protection was their hidden nature and small size. That also meant what we had was what we had. There was no Black Hand SWAT team on the way.

Working with hand gestures alone, the Vizsla was directing us to a trap door behind the bar. Josef's phone rang. He hesitantly answered.

[Hungarian] "It is for you," he offered it to our host. She took it. Halfway through the caller's diatribe, she shot me a suspicious look.

[Hungarian] "Why don't you ask him?" she stated, then handed me the phone.

[Mycenaean Greek] "Hello Nyilas. Do you know who this is?" the man on the other end stated.

[Mycenaean Greek] "Yes, I do. What do you want? I'm kind of busy here?" I grinned. It was laughing at death all over again.

[Mycenaean Greek] "I can relieve you of your pressing schedule. You and the other Amazon step outside and I'll make it quick."

[Hungarian] "No can-do Studly," I smirked. "If I go out there, it is going to take a while."

[Hungarian] "I sincerely doubt that."

[Hungarian] "Don't sell yourself short," I jibed. "I figure clipping off those bull-sized testicles of yours is going to take some work. But I do promise that after I make you a eunuch, I'll use a condom when I bend you over and make you my bitch too. Was there anything else you wanted to know?"

[Hungarian] "No. I think we have a mutual understanding," he laughed. "I'll be seeing you soon." He hung up.

[Hungarian] "Who was that?" Vizsla inquired. She wasn't alone in her curiosity.

"Ajax," I beamed confidence. I was confident my tenure on this Earth was ending real soon.

[Hungarian] "I think we should be leaving," Vizsla suggested.

"Selena, help Alkonyka get her sister back," I requested. "I'll catch up when I can. Pamela, you do what you feel you need to do. Vizsla, they are after me, so I'm going to keep them busy while you get away," I explained.

No useless 'you don't have to do this' nonsense. She knew the score, I wasn't a member of her outfit and she wanted to live. She did do me one favor. She gave another hand movement. Selena slit Josef's throat in a surprise motion.

He didn't die right away. Selena's slash made bleeding out inevitable, but he'd be a while in dying. Odds were, that only Vizsla and Josef knew in advance where we were meeting. Whatever payoff the Condottieri had put in his bank account wasn't going to do him any good. Selena bent over his still-thrashing body and removed his pistol.

"I will bring you Angyalka Lovasz," Selena pledged. Pamela and I were gearing up. Ajax and his buddies were going to be coming for me any second now. Alkonyka gave me one more worried look before she vanished into the secret basement. "Don't be late," was the last thing Selena said before going down into the darkness. Pamela made sure the trap door was covered up.

(Lust and Bullets)

"We've used Butch and Sundance," Pamela checked her L42 Enfield Sniper Rifle. It was the weapon Pamela had trained with and used for longer than I'd been alive - old yet very effective even today.

"Heat?" I offered up. "You can be De Niro and I can be Kilmer."

"Nice. Michael Mann really had a way of killing people," Pamela grinned, then pumped her eyebrows. "Too bad I end up dead in this one."

"We'll avoid airports - you should be safe," I joked. Three explosions rocked the building, shooting glass throughout the place. Fortunately, Pamela and I were hiding behind the bar.

"Let's go," she whispered over the din. Charging out the front door seemed pretty suicidal to me, but Pamela's copious battle lore was something I had the utmost faith in. I respected her judgment and followed along. There was a method to her madness. Two 40 mm grenades had taken out the two cars parked in front. A third launched grenade had blown open the door.

The petrol in the cars equated to flaming wreckage and a huge smoke screen. It was broad daylight - no night vision goggles. The flames made IR useless and the smoke temporarily obscured regular vision. The machineguns going off around us scared the crap out of me. It was my old buddy, suppression fire: they weren't shooting directly at us.

Metaphysically, Ishara was dueling with Ares. There was a low stone wall, a little over a meter high, that separated an adjacent field from the inn's gravel parking lot. Right as we got to our side of it, three of Ajax's boys came up on the other. Pamela and I remained perfectly still, crouching tightly against our shelter.

Two knelt and fired several bursts from their H&K HK416 (Wow! Germany's newest killing machine - they looked slick) into the closest open windows while the third one fired a grenade in. Again, we remained perfectly still. We were about two meters from those three. The drab color of our hastily donned dusters, the congested air and our stillness combined to save us from their notice.

The second after that grenade went off, the three vaulted the wall and rushed the building. From the cacophony of the battle, they were storming the building from several directions at once.

"Quick, go find that guy with the machinegun," Pamela whispered over a feral grin. How was I going to do that?

The old fashioned way - I leapt over the wall and ran away from all the flames, explosions and the continuous widespread fusillade of assault weapons fire. I was partially bent over as I ran. I'm still a big guy though. The machine gunner was in a shallow dip in the meadow 30 meters away, on the edge of the woods.

He saw me, shifted his MG4 (fuck Ajax and his crew for having the best Bang-Bangs) minutely and unleashed hell my way. In hindsight, the 1st round flattened against my duster as it impacted my upper left thigh. Round #2 hit the duster again, coming below my vest, but hitting my belt (every bit of leather helps).

The #3 5.56 mm slug hit my vest due south of my belly button (FUCK!), # 4 landed a few centimeters up and to the right, taking in both the duster and my ballistic vest. The #5 round clipped my lower side of my right ribcage. The resulting force sent me spinning back and to my right.

Honestly, as I landed hard on my back (no rolling with the blow this time), I thought a midget mule team had kicked me in the guts. Apparently, I made a convincing mortally wounded human being. He stopped shooting and Pamela got pissed.

I learned a few things at that moment: you do NOT get used to being shot; you can NEVER appreciate the value of good body amour enough; you can never understand the true value of a sniper until your life is totally in their hands; and DAMN, Pamela was exceptional. Pamela put a bullet through his nasal cavity in that split second between him exposing himself with his muzzle flashes and deciding to put a few more bullets into my prone form.

Pain dictated that I lie where I was. Survival instincts overrode that. I went to my side, pushed up and resumed my crouched stance. Then I was running once more until I could throw myself beside his corpse. I was stunningly calm. Machineguns...snipers...I had to cover Pamela's run across the meadow. I didn't stay by the dead gunner.

I grabbed his weapon, some spare ammo and quick-stepped it to the wood line. I rapidly assessed the best spot that could provide cover from each flank. That was where I went down, cradled the device and started shooting at any muzzle flash I could see. The moment I opened fire, Pamela began her own sprint.

Unlike my mad dash, Pamela took evasive maneuvers - serpentine - which worked out well when one sniper figured out she wasn't one of them. He/she had two shots at her before she dove past me. Her mien was one of intense...emptiness? She gave me a quick pat-down to make sure I wasn't gushing blood, took a deep breath and then smirked.

"Come on, Dummy!" she laughed. "We still have a shot at a sequel."

"Shot - sequel - you are a laugh riot," I wheezed as I stood, abandoned the MG4 and joined her as we both ran deeper into the woods. A few shots zinged past us before Ajax's crew realized we were in full-on flight mode. They weren't going to waste the bullets.

This was the point where archaic and modern warfare diverged. In the olden (pre-Pamela - ow! How did she know what I was thinking?) days, when your enemy broke and ran, it was relatively easy to run them down and slaughter them in their panic. If a few men tried to stem the tide, they would be quickly overwhelmed.

After the invention of rapid-fire rifles, that changed. Suddenly, headlong pursuit could be incredibly costly. All it took was a small, resolute band to find some sort of hard cover and they could buy minutes, or even hours, for their retreating brethren. Sure, if you were willing to pay the butcher's bill, you could storm their position.

But you had to understand, each defender could fire and work the bolt action in under three seconds. You reloaded your magazine with a prepared clip ~ maybe five more seconds. Ten men could put 150 bullets down range per minute as long as their ammo held out. Sending men into that kind of firepower was murder; very few troops could sustain their attack under those conditions.

Ajax's resurrected Mycenaean's were tough enough to do it. Ajax's problem was their finite number. Despite catching Ajax off-guard with Pamela's mad plan, her ungodly skills and a great deal of my pain, we had only managed to kill one so far. The great unknowns were terrain (we didn't know where we were,) and my luck.

As Pamela and I ran through the forest at a good clip, we began to make out a specific background noise. It was a river. Not a creek, stream, waterfall, or dam - a river.

"Did you pack your jet ski?" Pamela snorted.

"I left it in the car. You said it was so '1990's'," I panted back. A few more footsteps and...

We heard dogs barking. Ajax had some pooches; how wonderful. His men weren't rushing after us. They didn't have to. Pamela and I were running at a river. Undoubtedly, he had stationed small teams to the north and south of us along the river so we couldn't slip by. Had Ajax realized how much the cosmos loves me, he would have come charging in. We heard a boat.

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