tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 36

Life as a New Hire Ch. 36


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

*When our ancestor committed the first murder, was it rage, or fear that drove them to the deed?*

*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.*

(Evening near the Metropole, Roma, Italia)

"I think you've done well," Riki congratulated me as she terminated her phone call. Word had come down that her replacement was on the way. Our profile had been updated back at State and they clearly wanted to bring in the 'real professionals'. There also had been a miscommunication. I was far too stressed to be reasonable now.

Some undeserving smuck was about to be at the receiving end of my wrath for no better reason than I was at my limit of accepting any further alterations to my life. In hindsight, I was being totally irrational. At that moment in time, I didn't care whose day I was ruining. Sometimes I can be a jerk and an idiot at the same time.

The US State Department apparently thought I couldn't dictate who was, or wasn't, a member of 'Unit L' ... we now had our own designation within Javiera's expanding task-force. The government had a random name generator for this shit and we got the letter 'L'. Maybe that device didn't think we were going to last long enough to matter. Anyway, I took the phone and hit redial. Riki gave me an 'I'm puzzled' look.

"Who am I talking to?" I inquired.

"Ms....who are you?" he demanded, since my caller ID said Riki and, unless I used my high, squeaky voice, I obviously sounded like a guy.

"I'm Cáel Nyilas. Who is this?" I replied.

"I'm Bill A. Miller, Director of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service. What seems to be the problem, Mr. Nyilas?" He was rather uptight about the call-back.

"Since we are working together, why don't you call me Cáel?" I politely requested. "I'll call you Willy."

"My name is Bill, but you can call me Director Miller," he corrected me. "The reason for your call is?"

"It is Willy, or Dick; your choice," I countered. "I don't call my boss 'Director' and I worship the ground she walks on. You are not even in her league. Also, I've had bad experiences with guys named Bill which are too painful to explain right now."

That was true. One was friend taking a shower and leaving me alone with his mother. The other was early on in my career when I confused a girl named Bonnie with her real name 'Bill'. I was my own personal 'The Crying Game'. I didn't handle that episode well.

"Besides, I didn't call to discuss name-calling. I want to know how many agents work for you."

"What does that have to do with anything?" he grumbled.

"You are quick with the questions while painfully bereft of answers," I snorted. "Don't make me Google this too."

"Over two thousand," he stopped being a total ass. "Is there anything else I can tell you that Miss Martin should have been able to tell you?" Ooops... Back to being an ass.

"Riki's being physically restrained from taking her phone back by some of my educationally-challenged, illegal alien, unskilled labor force of questionable loyalty," I outrageously lied. It was an odious habit of mine that I'd cultivated vigorously over the past few weeks. "Two thousand humans...thanks. Is Riki's replacement a guy, or a girl? Wait, who cares? Just send their picture and I'll let you know where to send their replacement."

"Are you threatening my people?" he simmered.

"No. That would make me an uncooperative and nefarious nuisance," I evaded. "Of course, when a person sticks their hand into a functioning garbage disposal, you don't blame the device. You blame the moron who stuck their hand in." From the perspective of our relationship, I was the garbage disposal.

"That definitely sounds like a threat," he responded. He was going to stick his hand in anyway.

"Your inability to comprehend the nuances possible with the English language is not why I called and not something I feel I can educate you about, given my current time constraints. Just have one of your insipid flunkies send me the picture. I need to purchase duct tape and an out-of-the-way storage space," I informed him.

"By the way, in the spirit of legal chicanery, could you tell me how long it will take for Riki Martin's name to come back up in the rotation? Let's figure 36 hours between each hot-shot leaving DC and their eventual inability to return phone calls," I wanted to make sure he knew I was taunting his pompous self. (Me being pompous and unhelpful didn't cross my mind at that moment.)

"Let me make myself clear, Mr. Nyilas," he repeated. "Not only can you not dictate terms to the US government, you are not even the team's designated leader." I wasn't? Fuck him. I had tons of useless members of the Alphabet Mafia in front of my name, all loudly proclaiming my numerous accolades.

Of everyone on the team, I had the most: NOHIO (Number One House Ishara Official), HCIESI-NDI, (Havenstone Commercial Investments Executive Services' Intern -- New Directive Initiative ... I didn't make that one up, I swear), MEH (Magyarorszag es Erdely Hercege) and UHAUL (Unpaid Honcho Assigned to Unit L). I liked that last one, so that was how I was going to sign off on all my reports now.

"First off, I AM in charge, Willy. Without me, there is no Unit L. I quit ... and then what? In case you missed it, I can't be drafted or threatened by you. If you think you can replace me, please do so right now and let me get back to my life -- you know, the thing that actually puts money in my pocket.

Besides, I am not refusing to take anyone you see fit to put on MY team. I'm just not going to tell you where I'm going to take them to. I suspect they are adults and can find their way home...eventually, Willy."

"Mr. Nyilas, you are an unbelievably fortunate amateur and novice intellectual in a situation that demands experience and professionalism. It is time for you to step back and let the people who know what they are doing take over. Just play your part and we'll make sure you get due credit for following orders and behaving," he unleashed his fair-smelling bile.

"I am following your orders; your procedures dictate that a member of the State Department will be on this team," I kept my calm. "As one of the people who actually has experience with this situation, I'm letting you know how things work in the field. Every person you send will be misplaced, thus you will have to send someone else. Alerting you to the need to stay on top of your job -- sending someone else -- sounds to me like common sense advice in this circumstance."

"That is not going to happen, Nyilas. If something happens..." he got out.

"Willy, duct tape is plentiful and cheap. Kidnapping -- thus hostage keeping -- is virtually a religion in Southern Italy. And though I am already wired into the local criminal underground, I'm just not going to be able to help you, or them. I'll make up some implausible excuses as the need arises. So now you know the score. The next move is yours," I smiled.

"The next words out of your mouth had better be 'I'll behave', or the State Department will revoke your passport and have stern words with the Republic of Ireland over your diplomatic status," Willy warned me.

"I'll behave," I fibbed. Riki snatched the phone out of my hand.

"Sir -- Director Miller, I want you to know I had NOTHING to do with Mr. Nyilas' tirade," Riki apologized. "He stole my phone."

"I did." and "OWW!" I hollered in the background. "She ground her heel into my instep. the fiery little minx." I was propping up her excuse because I owed her for verbally taking a dump on her boss, the ASS-(h)EAP back in Romania. Riki punched me.

"Ms. Martin, do we need to reconsider your employment, or can we rely on you to re-organize Unit L before Ms. McCauley (her replacement) arrives?" Willy lectured.

"Director Miller..."

"Call him Big Willy," I whispered to her. "He loves that 'Big Willy' style."

This time she hit me in the thigh. My ballistic vest had gotten in the way of her first hit, but she was a quick learner.

"How can you know a song from 1997, yet not know that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008?" Riki put her hand over the phone and hissed at me.

"Ah," Pamela teased. "Somebody is a Will Smith fan." Riki looked away.

I wasn't sure what to make of the Will Smith -- Ricky Martin combo forming in my mind. Will was one of my manly icons. Hey, he was a stud, scored numerous hotties in his film career and married Jada Pinkett Smith. What's not to love? Growing up, I wanted to be like Will Smith. When/if I ever finished growing up, I wanted to be like George Clooney.

"Director Miller," Riki tried again. "He's lying. From my personal observations and with supporting personality profiles provided by other members of the task force, I can guarantee you that Mr. Nyilas is unreliable and untrustworthy. Sir, I've watched Romani males hide their wallets and their daughters when he walks by." Okay...wasn't that last bit a lie?

"that last bit a lie?es hide their wallets and their daughters when he walks by. provided by other members However, unless she has been cross-trained as a waitress at a gang-affiliated nightclub, a day-care worker for the criminally insane, plus consistently wins at Texas hold 'em, she's going to be out of her element here."

"No sir, but Mr. Nyilas likes me...I'm not sure why," she glared at me. I poked her in the boob to help clarify the matter. Riki slapped my hand. Virginia punched me in the shoulder. I decided to poke Virginia in her ballistic-covered breast, hoping she was jealous for the attention. I was wrong. They both hit me again.

Had this been sexual harassment, they would have hated this job and despised me. Since this was me being my painfully childish self...well, I was still annoying, but also adorable. Put it this way: if a woman could not only pepper spray a man making cat-calls at her ... and was even encouraged to do so, wouldn't that de-stress the situation?

"Director Miller, I don't want to stay on this assignment, yet I'd be remiss if I didn't explain some of the numerous pitfalls of working with Unit L. Every one of them is comfortable being a walking arsenal. I'm on my way to have a ballistic vest tailored for me because I'm the only one in the unit without one. I have no doubt that any of them could kill me with their bare hands in less than 5 seconds if they so desired," she explained.

"You would think they would want a more effective combatant with them," Miller grew icy, suspecting duplicity on Riki's part -- moron. She looked at me over the phone.

"Sir, I think they like me because I know I don't belong in a firefight. They can count on me to cower behind cover while the bullets are flying. That allows the rest to kill unimpeded by having to keep an eye on me," she said.


"One of them did show me how to recognize and start various grenades. She said if I was ever the last one alive, it would give me 'options'."


"Ms. Martin, don't cancel your flight back to DC yet. I'm going to give Ms. Castello a call to see what her assessment of the situation is," Willy allowed. "Good-bye."

"I can't believe I talked him into making me stay with you people," Riki moaned.

Our little caravan was slowing to a stop outside the Metropole Hotel. It was Hana's choice for a Roman meeting location. A restaurant and a hotel room, all in one location. Rachel and Wiesława were ahead of us, checking things out. Hana had informed us that the Illuminati had two people watching her. This was going to be my last bit of time with Rachel for a while.

(Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...)

Two new members of House Ishara were on their way to Rome. They'd be joined by two members of the House Guard of Andraste from Britain. The two Isharans were the first members of the House Guard of Ishara in over a thousand years. I didn't expect them to be the martial equals of Rachel...or Charlotte. Not yet. And anyway, that didn't matter. What mattered to me was that they'd volunteered for the task and Buffy felt they were the best we had.

Another nomadic pack of House Hylonome Amazons had taken in the traumatized Zola. She had to stay in Romanian until the authorities finished up her part of the investigation. A mixed group from House Živa and Ishara (led by Helena) would handle security for Professor Loma, his family and the Lovasz sisters during their trip to New York.

Aliz, his wife, was officially in House Ishara's custody. That was my best play at making sure she avoided summary justice for her 'betrayal' of House Hylonome. The whole group would be handed over to House Epona as soon as the Romanians cleared them for foreign travel. It helped my case that Aliz appreciated my warnings about the danger that both families were in from House Illuyankamunus.

The occult nitpicking that allowed me to leverage this maneuver was accomplished by me doing yet another rarely done feat. In the name of Alkonyka Lovasz, House Ishara was sponsoring a new Amazon house. I could testify to the existence and matronage of the Goddess SzélAnya (without her permission), which was one of the stepping stones for acceptance.

Vincent was going to stay in Germany for two days, then he was off to his home and daughters in Arlington Virginia...with a long convalescence and a rumored promotion. Mona and Tiger Lily were already on their way to New York as honor guard for Charlotte's body, courtesy of the US Air Force. The Amazons needed the USAF to do it because that was the only way we could get the Romanians to release her body.

The Hylonome dead, they would be buried in a private plot after all the autopsies were done. I was absolutely sure the Hylonome would steal the bodies in due time and give them a 'proper' burial. Of the Mycenaeans, Red and one of his buddies still remained at large. Of Ajax's half-brother, Teucer, and the other previously wounded Greek warrior, there was no sign. Kwen and the other POWs remained in Romania to face a laundry list of charges. Her fate was unknown to me.

My bodyguard was reduced, yet no one minded. The twin reasoning was that the Black Hand in Italy would provide some protection for me. The other was that I was in the birthplace of the Condottieri. Selena's sources strongly suspected that their HQ was close to Rome itself. I could have had more security by recruiting among the 'natives'.

Various sources, some inside Italy, had suggested that the Carabinieri, Italy's military police force, had 'offered' to provide some protection. That was prompted by events surrounding my visits to Budapest & Mindszent, Hungary and the 'action' south of Miercurea Ciuc, Romania (no one wanted to call it a battle, even though the fight involved over 1000 Romanian Land Forces troops and half a squadron of the Romanian Air Force).

My refusal of the offer caused a 'disruption'. This was a polite way of saying the Italians did not want me to enter their country. I wasn't being a jerk this time. Selena and Aunt Briana were both of the opinion that the Condo's recruited heavily from European military and paramilitary units -- particularly Western Europe. And that not all their 'new hires' had left active duty either.

A peculiar circumstance then developed. The pretext for denying me entry was undercut by Hungary and Romania erasing me from their official investigation. I wasn't a threat (despite the burnt landscape and tombstones sprouting up in my wake.) Romania didn't want me to stay, Hungary decided they didn't want me back -- at the moment -- and the US/UK/Ireland were telling the Italians that I was a peach, or whatever implied that in diplomatic speech.

There was a compromise finally reached by Riki and shadow forces that I couldn't put names to. I could come to Italy as long as my itinerary was relayed to Carabinieri. We could keep our side arms in holsters and our big guns as long as they weren't on our persons. I could go around without a Carabinieri bodyguard as long as I ignored them floating around me at a discreet distance. A liaison officer would meet me at the hotel to maintain the illusion that I was just a paranoid tourist.

Delilah had to touch base with the British again, probably for the same reasons that the US wanted to replace Riki. While both Delilah and Chaz were military and seconded to MI-6, they weren't considered Intelligence Experts by the people at the helm. For that matter, they weren't even sure how Delilah had ended up at my side...killing multi-national terrorists in three separate countries inside of one month. That was very cinematic, not realistic. The idea of governments with shadow operatives 'sanctioning' people was not something that anyone in the 'know' wanted to talk about.

Whether it was before the media, a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, or a UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee this wasn't what these Department Heads wanted to discuss. Less anyone forget, my Congress and my President didn't...ummm...get along.

In my favor, I was an orphan from New Hampshire, both my US Senators were women and I'd worked on their campaigns or dated some of their volunteers. It might do me some good to call Dr. Kimberly Geisler at Bolingbrook to see what she could do politically. All that could wait.

(Finishing Up)

Selena Jovanović had the first of our two dark blue Alfa Romeo 159s, the one that disgorged Rachel and Wiesława. She, Saku and Odette would circle the block in case there was any trouble. Pamela had the driver's seat in my car. No one wanted me or Odette to drive because we didn't understand urban Italian street etiquette. It was Virginia, me and Riki in the backseat with Chaz up front with Pamela.

Rachel gave the preliminary order to disembark. That meant the lobby was partially clear -- there were armed types about that seemed to be either Carabinieri, or understandable private security. Rome wasn't as dangerous as Mexico City (kidnap-wise), but events in London, Budapest and the Hungarian and Romanian countryside were putting people on edge. And those with enough money could buy some emotional comfort in the form of armed private contractors.

Chaz took his H&K UMP-45, stock folded, out of the bag at his feet and secured it inside the right-side of his jacket. Three spare clips went inside a harness on his left. It was dreamlike as Virginia and I went through a similar, less heavily armed process. For FBI Girl, it was a 'carry-on' with flash-bang, concussion and smoke grenades, plus a few extra clips/mags for everyone.

For me, it was a tomahawk, a second Gloc-22 and a bullet for everyone in the hotel, if that became necessary. As the car came to a stop in front of the main doors, I worked my way over Riki so that I would be the second person to exit the car. Chaz would be the first. Virginia got out on her side. Pamela would stay at the wheel -- Riki had an appointment with a tailor to keep.

I felt it then, that sympathetic spiritual harmony I was one-third of. I looked up into the 'clear' Rome night. There she was, Bellatrix, the Amazon star in the Constellation of Orion. According to the Egyptian Rite, the Weave of Fate was nearly invisible by day, but by night, you could make out its strands in the motion of the stars. That was not something Alal had ever truly mastered. Still...

I had a new phone since the charred remains of my old one were in some evidence locker in Budapest by now. That didn't mean I wanted to use it. I was getting squirrely about people I didn't want finding me, finding me. Chaz was in the lead, I was in the middle and Virginia covered my back. Rachel caught sight of us, gave a quick nod, and then she and Wiesława went for the elevators.

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