tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 39

Life as a New Hire Ch. 39

byFinalStand©

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

Loving your enemy is easy. You know precisely where the two of you stand

Just in case anyone cares, I do not hate China or the Chinese People. As a Global Power, the PRC is fair game as a great antagonist. Not only do they have, as of 2015, the world's largest economy, largest population and a truly global Diaspora, they also have a rather totalitarian governance system that enables them to devote scary levels of resources to any endeavor they set their minds to.

I usually paint all governments to be entities capable of great good (rarely achieved) and great evil (because it makes such enticing fiction). In my stories, it often falls to the people within those institutions to make judgment calls on what is the right thing to do. In my final analysis, there are no 'Evil' governments, just evil people who use the system to get what they want


*****

(Right where we left off)

{9 pm, Tuesday, August 16th ~ 23 Days to go}

{aka 2 am Wednesday, Aug. 17th ~ 22 Days to go [Havenstone time]}

[The following is in Mandarin until I note otherwise]

"What are you doing?" I struggled to keep the panic from my voice.

"Killing all these alarms," Zhen responded. She was grinding her teeth in frustration and fear. "There is nothing we can do to fix those problems."

"My ... right rudder ... its barely responding," I grunted. This was fly-by-wire, not typical manual control, so my concern was entirely mental - not wanting to miss our turn south into the sole runaway on Johnston Atoll. With the steady degradation of the plane's electronics, we wouldn't make the 360 for another pass.

Landing from the southern end of the runway would put the cyclone force winds behind us. There would be no way for the plane's two inexperienced pilots to make that miraculous landing happen. No, we had to approach form the north, into the winds and allow nature to slow us down.

"On it ... I'm good," she confirmed that her co-pilot's systems were still doing their job. "Tell me when we are making our final approach." Zhen, my Seven Pillars of Heaven co-pilot (and designated assassin), couldn't see where we were going. Our avionics had perished earlier in this disaster.

Goddess Dot Ishara was communicating with Goddess SzélAnya who was frolicking in this maelstrom; the Draconic Storm Divinity was in her element. Dot was 'in' her element as well ~ her last living mortal descendent (me) ... if you didn't count all those unborn offspring I'd been contributing to in the past few weeks.

'Are you thinking about me, Wakko?' she whispered into my mind. I was Wakko Ishara. I was supposed to be Yakko, but that hadn't worked out. As the 'main girl' in the relationship between me, the leader of her Amazon House, and Yakko Ishara ~ my first Ishara ancestor ~ she earned the slot of Dot (see Warner Bros.) Ishara.

One of her earliest gifts to me was to make my mind inviolate to ALL supernatural penetration which was the reason she was bothering to ask about my thoughts and intentions.

'Yes,' I thought back. 'I'm worried you are expending too much energy on my behalf, Dot.'

'Opposed to leaving you alone with SzélAnya? I don't trust her around you. She'd make a little Dragon-offspring/avatar with you if I'm not careful.'

'If you aren't careful? Don't I get a say in all of this?'

'No. Trust me ... she's clingy and you are more active than a whole temple of Babylon's whores. Her mortal avatar would further bond your two legends together and your Legend is already the prop ... placed with House Ishara.' Translation: My Goddess was clingy. After all, she'd meant to say my legend was her 'property'.

"Flaps!" Zhen yelled at me. "Check your flaps. Mine keep shorting out."

"On it," I replied. I'd 'zoned out', so she'd screamed at me to get my attention back on task. Altitude ... 1200 meters ... which meant flaps at ... fuck if I knew.

"What do I set them ... Oh Shit!" I realized I'd forgotten something horribly imperiling.

"What?" Zhen shot me a furious look.

"Fuel! We've got to start dumping the fuel!" I screamed.

"Why?"

"Fireball, Zhen. If we hit hard, this bitch will barbeque us," I spit the words. "Don't you watch any airplane crash movies?" I added.

"The Airbus 350 has plenty of ... safeguards ..."

"You mean like all the other ones that have failed us in the past half hour?"

"Opening main tanks #1 and #2," she grumbled. "If we are struck by another lightning bolt we could blow up in mid-air."

"Won't happen," I feebly jested. "The Storm Goddess loves me."

"Does she love my brother and I?"

"Nah. She wants you and everyone else on this plane dead ... but she's humoring me right now."

"Flaps," she reminded me. "Why would she care about you?"

"Having no other useful skills, I am a truly remarkable lover."

Zhen spared me a blistering look.

"You have seized this aircraft from my brother, me and forty of our best Special Operations Strike Warriors. That does NOT qualify you as 'unskilled'," she lambasted me.

"Oh no? You should see a 'real' Amazon in action," I teased her. "I'm just an intern who hasn't yet completed his 84 day trial period." I also worked the flaps.

"Too much," she snapped. "If we drop below 400 kph, these winds will slam us into the Pacific."

I was adjusting the flaps appropriately as we began our final roll to the left when a cloud-to-cloud bolt of electricity coursed through our craft. We didn't blow up.

"Thank you, SzélAnya," I whispered.

"What?" Zhen worried. Fucking up now would be the end of us all.

'Your gratitude is overdue, Cáel,' SzélAnya slipped her murmur into the crashing thunder and another lash of raw, natural fury. 'We will talk later.'

"I thought you said she loves you."

"Ummm ... did I forget to mention I told her I was going out for pizza and never called her back?"

"That makes no sense," Zhen glared at me briefly. I was gifted with a visual of our plane in perspective to the runway. Yay ... five meter waves were smashing into the atoll. I adjusted our yaw to the right.

"We are three kilometers out," I advised her.

"Flaps ... spoilers," I went over my limited Alal-knowledge. This stuff worked on a piston driven commercial liner and it was the only flight data I had.

"Landing gear," Zhen responded. She had to throttle up a little because all that drag was cutting into our speed.

'You are being blown too far to the east,' SzélAnya advised. I did the best I could.

"What are you doing?" Zhen was starting to sweat.

"Responding to divine intervention."

"I ... I see it!" Zhen's panic turned to exultation as she could finally make out the pale concrete runway surrounded by the angry sea.

Too disasters hit us simultaneously.

"The left landing gear is not fully deployed," Zhen cautioned me.

"We are coming in too fast anyway," I dryly noted. The Goddess had brought me in on target, but she knew nothing about aircraft aeronautics.

The Airbus came down too hard, too fast and our left landing gear snapped on impact. Sarrat Irkalli's parting gift was decay. Every design weak point gave in. The front fuselage broke apart, my hand on the dagger slipped and the power died. The front 25% of the plane spun off to the west while the remainder shot down the runway and off the southern end of the island.

Sadly we went off into the lagoon between the western side and the barrier reef. In a delayed bit of good fortune, our careening section went head to head against a massive storm surge.

"Go!" I screamed at Zhen.

She snatched up her Jian that she had used to pin the undead necromancer Tsu. I was right behind her, though I did stop to retrieve Sarrat Irkalli's dagger and pluck the two bone reliquaries from his neck before following Zhen's tight, athletic buns out of the cockpit and toward Aya. My diminutive better half was still in her seatbelt and clutching the medical bag to her chest.

[English] "Cáel, I think we are sinking," she noted with a twinge of concern and more courage than I felt like utilizing. As Zhen was rescuing her brother the enormity of my mistake sunk in. All the Seven Pillars people were unconscious thus unable to save themselves from drowning. Aya's survival came first. I'd worried about my 'would-be executioners' later.

I swept up Aya so fast it took me a second to realize she was poking me. She had retrieved the trinkets Felix had given Mu - our phone cards, my Dot-treats and my Amazon blade. I quickly strapped the blade to my arm. The water was rushing in through the severed back section.

I turned to see Zhen struggling with her brother. Her look said it all. She expected them both to die. She wouldn't abandon him to save herself and the waves were too rough to make it with him.

"Get as far as you can," I shouted to her over the typhoon strength winds. "I'll come back for you."

Her face expressed how little faith she put in my promise. Zhen had no choice left to her. I cut off two lengths of seat-belt to give Aya a harness to wrap over my shoulder and opposite underarm. I used the second piece to create her harness I linked with my own. {Back to English as the primary language}

"He'll come back for you," Aya tried to assure Zhen while I worked.

"Aya, take a deep breath then expel it," I advised. The second she did I dove into the water. I had never attempted to swim in water this nasty, but I had been dumped into a white water rapids before. That was the best I had.

Somehow in the madness, I pointed myself in the right direction. Once more, the storm came to my rescue. Two monster waves picked us up and pushed us toward the edge of the runway.

'Go to the north end of the island,' Ishara told me. There is a building there that will shelter you ... and Cáel ... I must leave now. Don't do it.'

'I can't not try,' I replied. 'Can you help Aya?' I gave one last appeal. No reply. I twisted southward to locate the next monster wave. My precious cargo pressed tightly to my upper torso, I flipped over so that my feet were facing toward the onrushing runway. I'm not as dumb as I look, or sound.

I bent my knees in the same way they instruct you when you go cliff diving. Up we went. I pulled Aya and I as deep into the water as possible ... up ... up ... crest and then down-down-down. My bare right foot hit something jagged and sharp. I'd worry about bleeding later. The momentum of that contact tried to tilt me head-first, but I resisted.

My left foot slapped down on a hard, smooth, granular surface - the sea wall. Now I swam backwards with my free arm while I raced to get my right foot back under me. My body ended up surging forward, yet I was in control of my movements once more. I rolled with the impact, taking the brunt to my left shoulder while shielding Aya with my right. Three rolls and I was on my feet again.

"Aya!" I beseeched my companion.

"That was fun," she yelled back over the hurricane force winds. "Let's try to do this next year ..." the rest was lost. I kept staggering forward in about a foot of water that the storm had flooded over the land. I looked behind me.

The next wave was unfriendly. The one behind that one appeared to be a lot like what I imagined a Berlin Wall-sized tombstone would look like. I ran. I survived the first wave then gave Aya a cautionary squeeze. I felt her tiny lungs inflate, soak up the salt-water spray and oxygen then flush the air back out.

A few more steps then we plunged back sideways into the monster current ~ the wave had already crashed.

"What did you say?" I shook Aya as we surfaced once more.

"...next year ... much later next year," she grinned up at me.

"Aya, do you think you can ..."

"Yes. Go find them. You gave her your word," she hugged me.

"Stay on the runway - head north - Dot says there is a building up there that is still intact. Aya ... take this," I handed her the pistol and a spare mag.

"Do you promise you won't let me die today?" she shouted over the winds. I had to think about that. Aya rammed the pistol and magazine into her medical bag's side pocket. Oaths had their own power and maybe, just maybe, Dot Ishara would help me honor this one.

"I swear to you, I will not let you die today," I yelled back.

"Then go and hurry," she hugged me as I cut her loose. "She needs you more than I do. Go!" With that, we separated. Aya slugged forward a few steps, was staggered by another wave then turned and gave me her 'thumbs up'.

I turned to the south and the blinding winds and terrible surf. I had to try. Alal kicked in. Jumbo commercial airliners = no help. Shipwrecks = he'd survived a few. I mapped out in my mind the waves, winds and their direction relative to the plane. I could still make out its half-submerged shape.

The edge of the runway had a U-shaped seawall which created a peak that channeled the waves. I couldn't see the structure itself due to the high tide, but I could locate the wall by watching the waves break. If I could get to the outside of the eastern peak, I would have an easier time going about this rescue. Also, if Zhen wasn't brought in by the same waves that saved Aya and I, she would be driven to the northwest, parallel to the island.

I could intercept them. I'd effective killed everyone else. Maybe ... I dove in.

'Don't!'

'Too late, SzélAnya'. I vaulted off the semi-submerged sea wall, then let the undertow pull me along the broken coral rocks the Navy had put there when they expanded the airfield in the 1960's.

I kept my hands on the rocks, rock climbing in reverse. The waves passing overhead tried to pluck me up and return me to the land. I moved as rapidly as I could, until my muscles ached from the water's chill and oxygen starvation. My lungs were on fire. I let the next wave pull me up.

Fortune favors the foolish should be my new motto. I broke the surface just after another large wave passed by. I kept my breathing short and steady, despite my burning hunger for air. Gulping air would only earn me a mouthful of salt water. I took the reprieve in the storm's efforts to drown me.

The 'foolish' was waiting for me four meters away, slightly behind me and to the East. Zhen was being dragged past the atoll. I kept one eye on her progress and the other on the waves. A monster rolled up, I dove under and thus resurfaced less than two meters away. Zhen had Mu in a classic rescue swim position. He was still likely to suffocate in this downpour.

The look in her eyes was ... pure confliction. I cut through the last bit of ocean to be at her side. My first action was to point to the next tidal beast heading for us.

[Mandarin] "I've got him. Dive beneath the wave," I hollered. Had she resisted, all three of us would have been screwed. She didn't.

I took another deep breathe then sort of freaked her out. I clamped my mouth over Mu's and expelled my air into his lungs. My right arm snaked under his left with my hand grabbing the back of his head. I shoved his head tightly against my face, pressing his nose shut, then dove. Zhen was right behind me.

After that, we had our routine down. Zhen took Mu every fourth wave. Breathing for both him and me was tough. I'd take him back for the fifth and slowly we made ourselves to the eastern shore. I hit first, fell flat on my face but kept a hold on Mu. I temporarily lost sight of Zhen. One life at a time.

I lugged Mu up, staggered his unconscious and my exhausted forms a few feet and then was toppled by yet another wall of water. This time, when I returned to a standing position, I check Mu's breathing. He would make it. I few more steps - another wave. I kept my footing that time. Another ... Zhen came careening our way from the North. The waves had swept her passed us.

Zhen immediately looped her arm under Mu's right arm. That allowed her, me and our shared burden to slog another meter inland, then the next wave caught up with us. Zhen fell; I stumbled, but righted myself and thus kept Mu from being washed away. Zhen rolled a few feet forward, rebounded up, only to be shoved away when a gust of wind hit us.

On her next attempt, she rejoined us. From that point onward, we were far enough away from the land's end so that we were slogging through standing water and could resist the waves that impacted us.

[Mandarin] "You came back," she shouted.

There were all kinds of romantic, chivalric and very true responses to that. I chose a half-lie. [Mandarin] "I really wanted to see your tits one more time," I yelled. The looks she gave me was priceless. She was convinced I was a lunatic ~ no doubt about it.

While she puzzled out her reaction/retort, we chanced upon a Quonset hut. In its lee, we caught a break from the worst of the wind. We also picked up a little Epona who had made the same logical choice (to get out of the wind) as we had. My heart leapt for joy. She was grinning like an impish hellion as she tried to tell me something.

I leaned down until her lips were touching my ear.

"I forgot to pack my swimsuit," she chortled.

"It's probably sitting at home along with my surfboard," I kissed her on the forehead. "How about we get inside - somewhere?" Aya nodded.

[Mandarin] "Let's go," I roared. Zhen nodded briefly. We turned Mu around so we would be dragging him with his back to the winds. The journey to the structure SzélAnya had pointed me at (the JOC building) took over an hour and a half to cover the two kilometers. Along the way, Aya discovered her inner Peter Pan.

That was the childish fiction I was going to use to explain what she did when I regaled this episode to her Mother, assuming we made it back. In common parlance, a gust of wind that must have been ~150 kph picked her up and off she went. Hell, I'd honored my oath to Zhen. I dropped Mu and raced after my own personal good luck fairy.

A freak micro-burst, shot Aya up so high I lost track of her in the rain.

'Please'.

I saw my tiny human javelin plummeting to earth several meters away. Aya had refused to mitigate her fate by releasing the medical bag. I jumped, caught her and took another hard spill to the ground, Aya on top of me. She said something to me.

I made it back to my knees, clutching a standing Aya firmly to my chest.

"I said 'I've had enough fun for today," she sputtered. "Can we go inside now?"

'You now owe me a life ... I go ...'

'Thank you'. If she heard me, she didn't acknowledge it. The storm didn't relent its assault, that was for sure.

I couldn't risk losing Aya again. I had placed Zhen and Mu on solid ground so she returned to being my top priority. I slogged my way through the typhoon - cyclone - 'what have you', only to find a solid steel door between Aya and safety. I felt volcanic fury building up inside me. Then I remembered I still had a few firearms ...

The QCW spoke and the door popped opened. I raced around the first interior corner, deposited Aya, ran back to the door, reverse course, raced back to Aya, kissed her cheek then ran back out into the blinding rain and battering winds. Zhen was right where I'd left her. She had relied on me coming back, damn her.

(The JSOC Building)

Five minutes later, I had the Seven Pillars twins inside and the door wedged shut. We were all temporarily safe. Here and there small puddles of water had formed from leaks above, but otherwise the structure was solid, sound and safe. Zhen and Mu were on the opposite side of the room. After she tended to her brother, she looked my way.

I took the medical bag from a wide-eyed and happy Aya.

"We are down to two of them," she shivered. "Perhaps you should ask her to surrender now, while they still can?" I snorted then chuckled.

"Do you really think the proud scions of Duan will bow before the Amazons?" I asked her. Aya fatigued mind worked that question over.

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