tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 43

Life as a New Hire Ch. 43

byFinalStand©

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

*Would you choose ephemeral beauty, or rugged determination?*

*Please note: I wrote this before the incidents in Paris and San Bernardino, which makes some of the fantasy story developments tragic in that life sometimes mirrors fantasy*


*****

{5:45 am, Saturday, August 30th ~ 9 Days to go}

"You look like someone strangled your kitten," Pamela told me as I exited Anais' hotel room. She was leaning against the wall across the hall. I had the feeling she had been there a while. Of course I hadn't been allowed to wander off alone; most likely, Chaz had kept an eye on me until Pamela relieved him.

"I ... I got Tadêfi killed," I unloaded on her.

Pamela immediately dropped her casual façade, her eyes narrowing. "What do you know?"

"Ishara took me to her while I dreamed. I spoke to her ... I guess because I was there in Ishara-space. She told me that the birth of our child will kill her. What the fuck have I done?" I was near tears, damn it.

"You work for bitches, top to bottom," Pamela stated firmly. "Of course you weren't informed of any of this until after the fact. Do me a favor?"

"What is it? I'm not about to throw myself off a building - again."

"Don't let this tragedy bog you down. That is what Alal wants, to soil the goodness and forgiveness within you. That road leads to only one place - being as bad as he is. I've seen that capacity within you as well."

"To be a rank-bastard?"

"Precisely."

"What do I do?" sounded so pathetic coming from me.

"Cry. Weep. Remember you work for bitches, then laugh at them. You only lose if you stop being you."

"I hardly think being an irresponsible playboy is the appropriate response to all of this?"

"Hey. Don't hold back. I still have two ready and willing granddaughters you've promised to do something about," she chided me. I couldn't help myself. I snorted in amusement. I was Anakin Skywalker in the tent. I guessed I would be that forlorn soul for a while longer, except I had Pamela holding me back from the last few, fatal steps.

{3:00 pm, Saturday, August 30th ~ 9 Days to go}

"They want to do what?" I blinked. I was in Doebridge, connecting with Aya and her Squirts. I hadn't asked to come here. Pamela decided our destination on her own initiative, and I hadn't come up with a convincing enough reason to jump out of the moving car. I didn't want to unload my woes on my 9-year old Valkyrie. She was entertaining her friends with a weekend of shooting bows and learning the best way to hobble a surprised foe ... just normal little Amazon-girl stuff.

"Some people of your government want to talk to the Esteemed Oyuun Tömörbaatar," Iskender repeated over the phone.

"In an official capacity? As ambassador from Kazakhstan? Or from the Khanate?"

"I am unsure. That is why we want you there," he informed me.

"In what capacity? Chief Ambassador of the Host? A member of JIKIT ..."

"As the Great Khan's Blood-Brother."

"Oh," I murmured, "This is because war is about to break out ..."

"Yes. We really cannot afford a fatal confrontation with the United States," Iskender told me.

"But if I make a deal in the Khan's name, it doesn't look bad for OT or Temujin, and if we are rebuffed, it isn't egg on their face either," I reasoned.

"That is my belief. You are regarded as the Great Khan's chaotic kinsman - someone tolerated for his eccentricities while being close to the Great Khan's heart - for a very good reason."

Yeah, I had saved his life. More to the point, five Amazon augurs had died so that he might live. To the Mongol-Turkish Empire, that carried an incredible weight. Things such as either being named, or nominated as Magyarorszag es Erdely Hercege, Prinţul Ungariei şi Transilvaniei, Mbretërore Princi i Shqipërisë, t'agavorakan ishkhan Haïasdan and sts'kho prints'I sak'art'velo? That was a whole lot of spaghetti with no actual paycheck, inherited palace, or even loyal palace guards to hold the republican masses at bay.

Okay, that was somewhat untrue. Hungary and Romania thought I was quaintly insane for accepting the Great Khan's claim that I was the Prince of Hungry and Transylvania, but Albania, Armenia and Georgia were far more serious about my honorifics.

In those nations, there was some traction to give the 'office' of prince the powers of a 'powerless' head of state, now that they were part of the Greater Khanate Empire. Essentially, I was to show up, give the Great Khan's blessing to their respective elected governments and then 'rubber stamp' their governing cabinets. On the plus side, I liked Albanian food and both Georgia and Armenia had year-round skiing.

"When do you want me to show up?"

"That is an issue. We need to meet on neutral ground where we are not likely to be noticed," Iskender hedged.

"We could call Addison and have her arrange something."

"The Esteemed Oyuun Tömörbaatar was of the opinion that we could hold this clandestine meeting at your residence," he dropped the anchor on me.

"Ah ... I live in a hole in the wall, Iskender," I pointed out.

"Define a hole in the wall."

"Two modest bedrooms, a kitchenette, one bathroom and a living room that only allows one sofa and one weight set ... small."

"With the money you make? Why?" he wondered.

"When I got the job three months ago, it was all I could afford. Since then, I haven't had the time to house-hunt," I explained. "Besides, I like my roommates."

"Who sleeps on the sofa?"

"Not you too," I griped. "Odette sleeps with me, unless my company minds. Then she sleeps with Timothy, unless he has company - Timothy is gay."

"Aahh ..."

"I'm not gay or bi-sexual, Iskender, if that is what you are worried about," I cut that line of thought off. Some cultures frowned on homosexuality and this wasn't time to make a fruitless stand for alternate lifestyles.

"I'm sure no one would think that of you." 'Because I was a renowned man-whore' was unstated.

"Do you still want to meet at my apartment?"

"Yes. This is a spur of the moment deal. Are you amenable?"

"I need to get back and get things ready ~ say an hour?" I offered.

"That would do nicely. Thank you, Cáel."

"We are all on the same team, right?" I sighed.

"We are glad you feel that way. We do appreciate it. I will see you in an hour."

"You've got to go?" Aya asked.

"Yeah. Work."

"It's okay. Stop burying yourself in the results of Tadêfi's choice and start thinking about raising your daughter, Cáel," she advised.

I had gone to see her because I wasn't sure I could make sense of it talking with Timothy. And Odette would try to comfort me with sex, which would only complicate having sex with her later. Girls rarely let shit like that go. Everyone else I knew ... had ulterior motives.

"And here I had hoped that we could partake of some oyster hunting," I teased her.

"If they corner me, I'll tell Elsa you tried. I'll see you Monday night. After all, this will be our last Monday together until ... you come back," she grinned up at me.

Done ... This Monday was the start of the last week of my Havenstone internship. I'd nearly run the gauntlet and survived. Monday night/Tuesday morning of the following week I would be heading somewhere, meeting up with Felix and forging some strategy that had us winning the Great Hunt.

For me, it was a matter of prestige. For Felix, it was a matter of freedom. Katrina had worked out a compromise. Felix would become the property of the House that captured him, though he would still be allowed to work at Havenstone. Essentially, we would be surrendering up his genetics. For Felix, it would be a permanent thing. If we won? Respect for House Ishara would increase and Felix would be free to choose any woman that wished to share his immaculate heritage.

"Good hunting, Dumu," I pulled her in for a hug. She wrapped her little arms around my waist. {Dumu = daughter}

"Mamitu. Find it in yourself to forgive Ishara, and then you can forgive yourself," she smiled.

"So how did you become so wise?" I felt a tiny bit of the weight lifted from my chest.

"I have a very bright father," she teased me right back, "... and an even smarter aunt."

"Stinker." I grunted,

Aya giggled and I separated on that happy note to make my way back to my current means of conveyance.

"Well, that was fast," Pamela remarked.

"Work."

"I haven't received a notification," she worried.

"Special, off-the-books, Khanate stuff. Temujin wants me to help him out," I confided. Both of us knew this was stuff we might not be able to tell our companions on JIKIT about. Not good. We needed to trust one another.

"That guy better start ponying up some tangible benefits."

"What do you suggest?" I mused as she started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.

"A few guardians would be nice. His personal phone number. Vast tracks of land in Kazakhstan, worked by serfs," she suggested.

"Beautiful, scantily clad serfs?"

"Are there any other kind? They will fit in well with your female Mongolian bodyguards," she chortled.

"Actually, a few more males in the bodyguard wouldn't suck," I countered. "I have an annoying habit of attracting gorgeous females who want to sleep with me."

I tried to keep the bitter tone from my voice.

"Atta boy," Pamela punched my arm. "Don't let the pain drag you down. As you told me, she's not angry about her fate. Being an Amazon, I believe she feels honored. The life of augurs is rather thankless and their doom is ignored by the majority of our 'sisters'. I don't think you will ever let that happen."

"Not now," I agreed.

"Thought of any names?"

Names for my unborn daughter ... the first of what appeared to be my many children. Holy Hell, what had become of my life as an unreliable cad, a womanizer and a disappointer of women?

"I was thinking of naming her after her mother," I replied.

"Don't do that to her. That's a legacy I wouldn't wish on any daughter - being an augur."

"Shala?"

"Where did that come from?" Pamela asked.

"The Sumerian Goddess of Compassion," I enlightened her.

"That's nice," Pamela gave me a tender look. She really was my spiritual triplet - Aya being our best third. "Of course, if you chose Pamela, I won't be insulted."

"What ..." and she punched me in the shoulder. I was about to say 'what about a legacy I wouldn't wish on ...', but she knew that.

[Note: A brief recap of what's gone wrong with the world - ]

Once upon a time there was a Mongolian chieftain named Temujin. He united his people (the Mongols), took the title of Genghis Khan and began the creation of the largest land empire that ever existed. He wasn't called Khagan, Yekhe Khagan, or Khaan (which means emperor/Great Khan/Khan of Khans in Turkish-Mongol parlance) until after his death. In his time, he was such a bad-ass that he didn't need any honorifics.

Temujin died. Normally, that would have been the end of that, but Temujin was someone special. After his death, a secret society called the 'Earth and Sky' came into existence to prepare for his return and the rebirth of his empire.

He did indeed, come back.

He came back several times, in fact. Each time, he judged the time was not yet ripe to reunify the peoples of Central Asia, so he died and the next generation of the E&S prepared for the next incarnation.

Twenty-two years ago, Temujin was born yet again. He recalled his heritage and set about determining if the time was ripe for his public resurrection.

This time, there were other people besides the E&S waiting for him. They were a rival secret society called the Seven Pillars of Heaven (the 7P). They had figured out a way to uncover his location and planned to kill him for good. That would have allowed the 7P to bring all of Asia under their mantle.

Earlier this year, a group of Amazon augurs reached into the Great Unknown, discovered the 7P's nasty little plan and passed that knowledge to the others. Five augurs paid for that knowledge with their lives. It was not in vain, ... one of the surviving augurs, Tadêfi, was guided by the Amazon goddesses to bear that message to some knucklehead named Cáel Nyilas.

Said knucklehead took that piece of knowledge to the New York City head of the Earth & Sky and gifted him with Temujin's precise location as well as the fact that the 7P's were closing in on him. Thus Cáel saved Temujin's life and Temujin was very grateful.

Temujin, along with the E&S, immediately launched an attack against the little known region of China known as Aksai Chan. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) reacted confidently in this opening action of war ... and saw the annihilation of much of the PLA's mobile forces along the Kazakhstan-Chinese border.

That however was only a highly visible diversion. The real 'first strike' was on the People's Republic of China in the form of an anthrax attack in several western Chinese cities. The plan was to prompt the Chinese to initiate preventative vaccine inoculations for their military and security forces ... because the E&S had lethally compromised the PRC's vaccine system. So the PRC actually gave the anthrax bacterium to their own forces.

A multitude of Chinese soldiers, airmen and sailors died. The E&S also subverted the governments of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and then announced the creation of a new Central Asian state, colloquially known as the Khanate. Bad things continued to happen to the PLA and the PRC. Soon, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan joined the Khanate.

Khanate forces, organized into tumens (units of 10,000 men), rapidly overran all of the regions and provinces of Gansu, Nei Mongol, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Qinghai, and Xinxiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as well as most of Yunnan and over half of Sichuan provinces.

At the same time, with the aid of the afore-mentioned knucklehead, the Khanate manipulated Russia into 'intervening to preserve order' - aka 'stealing' - Manchuria (the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning), thus denying the PRC of major industrial and petroleum centers. Temporarily unable to defend themselves, the PRC agreed to a six-month cease fire on August 20th. In the closing hours before the ceasefire took effect, the Khanate also managed to seize every island outpost of China in the South China Sea (excluding the big island of Hainan).

After the ceasefire, the Khanate managed to convince Albania, Armenia and Georgia to join the Khanate because (for the second two) being caught between militarily powerful Turkey and oil-rich Azerbaijan had them nervous and the Khanate's offer of union was hard to pass up. A coup in Afghanistan dropped that country into the Khanate's lap as well.

At the start of the crisis, the United States and the United Kingdom desperately needed insight into the changing situation in Asia, so they formed JIKIT (Joint International Khanate Interim Taskforce). For convoluted reasons, this group include the same knucklehead referenced earlier as well as a dozen highly qualified intelligence experts and Foreign Service operatives. JIKIT broke all kinds of rules, laws and guidelines in creating a mutually supportive relationship with the Khanate, up to and including sending Special Forces operators from their respective countries into the PRC to help the Khanate forces.

Unknown to the two governments they supposedly work for, JIKIT formed alliances with not only the Earth & Sky, but also the Amazons, the Black Lotus (the Chinese secret society resisting the 7P's) and the 9 Clans (a coalition of the world's best assassins, which included the Black Lotus and the Seven [now Six] Families of the Ninja). In doing so, JIKIT became involved in a shadow war going on between their allies and the alliance of the 7P's and the Condottieri (aka 'Global Mercs are Us').

Anyway, using the Paracel and Spratly Island holdings as a springboard, the Khanate formed an alliance with India and Vietnam who were bent on dividing up the area's oceanic resources before the PRC could return to prominence. In order to secure their frontiers, this regional group has become involved with the popular rising in Thailand (see Chapter 42) on the rebel side. A civil war is about to break out and now the world was holding its breath because the US was threatening to become militarily involved on the side of the Thai government forces. Which brings us to my apartment.

Note: End what's wrong with them world.

{4:00 pm, Saturday, August 30th ~ 9 Days to go}

"Hey Anais, what are you doing here?" flowed from my lips before I engaged my brain. I was in a rush.

Her brow furrowed slightly as she stood up. She had been sitting in the hallway, her ass on the ground and her knees up.

"You gave me neither your phone number nor my Serge," she explained. She looked past me to Pamela.

"My bad. My private number is 917-555-7399 [that's (an area code of NYC) - (Hollywood nonsense) - (SEXY) for the curious]. We can get your Serge right now," I said as I slipped past her.

"You would be the spiritual grandmother & retired assassin?" she looked over at Pamela.

"You must be something people have sex with, then get accused of bestiality," Pamela zinged right back.

"You are rude," Anais's eyes narrowed.

"And you have made the mistake of bringing an attitude to a gunfight, Princess," Pamela mocked her.

"Pamela - don't," I pleaded.

"But she's French," Pamela smirked. "I hate the French."

"She's Quebecois, not French. And since when have you hated the French?"

"Since about five seconds ago. It came over me like a premonition ... or maybe a past life experience."

"Who were you Lionel of Wandomme?" Anais refused to give an inch for the sake of civility. Pamela was a hopeless case ... which pretty much defined Anais as well. [Ole Lionel was the nobleman who took the surrender of Joan of Arc]

"Noooo ... I was Pierre Cauchon," Pamela grinned.

"Who?" I worked my key into the lock.

"He was the Bishop of Beauvais," Anais enlightened me. "He was the man who condemned St. Joan to the flames."

"How do you know that?" I unlocked the door.

"She has a well-developed knowledge of hypocrites," Pamela snorted.

"I learned of him when I studied how religious/political views can lead to a miscarriage of justice."

"Pamela - stop - please," I groaned.

"Why?"

"Because I love you?"

"That's pathetic," Pamela shook her head.

"Because you like me?"

"I love you more than I do my own grandchildren. And I am forever picking on you for your own spiritual growth, of course," she snickered.

"Cáel, how do you know this woman?" Anais turned her anger on me. I walked into my apartment, Anais and Pamela continued eyeing each other, neither one wanting to turn their back on the other. Anais was doing it because Pamela was dangerous. Pamela was doing it because she had the inexplicable desire to make Anais miserable.

"She's my knife instructor at Havenstone."

"Have you ever stabbed a person?"

"Perhaps. I've hit my fair share and shot a few. I like to think I haven't stabbed anyone who didn't derserve it. Besides, I prefer tomahawks."

"Tomahawks? You prefer to hit people with tomahawks instead of knives?"

"He's a lousy student," Pamela teased.

"Pamela, give it a rest," I sighed. "Anais has decided to stop sleeping with me. We are trying to part on amicable terms."

"She's giving up that dick? I don't think so," Pamela shook her head.

"You speak from experience?" Anais glared back.

"I speak from the experience of seeing women fight over him, Baby-cakes."

"My name is Anais Saint-Amour."

"I know that. I chose to denigrate you instead," Pamela responded.

"Why are you acting like this?" Anais frowned. "What have I ever done to you?"

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