Sex is a Job Description? Ch. 08byGalloglaich©
Dereza began to hum to herself as she filled out the paperwork that Harvey and Greg had presented to her. Tom sat at the kitchen table at the end closest to the window, while Greg and Harvey sat to his right on one side and Dereza opposite of them on the other. The half-succubus didn't look at all embarrassed that she was completely naked in front of two total strangers, or that she had been in the middle of having sex with him when they walked in.
Tom had lost those feelings of embarrassment a while back, but it was still a little awkward when your coworkers walked right in on you having sex without a care in the world and listing off things that needed to be signed and done like you hadn't been doing anything even remotely private.
Greg spoke with Dereza about some of the things she needed to understand on the form for third-party service to the Second Special Division of the Department of Internal Affairs. She nodded and continued to sign and give information as she needed to.
Harvey, however, gave Tom a sideward glance, amused.
"You have good technique, Tom," he said.
"Really? Dereza's screaming never told me that," he shot back. Harvey raised his hands a little on the table to signal he meant no offense.
"It's just idle conversation. I wanted to kick the door in and start shooting up the place like cowboys in a bar, but Greg said you'd be more flustered if we walked in and let you find us in there already," the older agent joked with a grin on his face.
"God, you're too hard to get mad at Harvey. You're too damn likeable," the younger of the two said, shaking his head slowly.
"There are some people who have seen the Harvey Fogelman that isn't as nice. Greg knows," Harvey said, glancing over at Greg, who held up his middle finger.
"This isn't story time Harvey. Sorry Miss Unrama, say that again..." Greg continued with Dereza. Harvey let a genuine smile settle on his face and sighed.
"He gets like this when he thinks he's doing all the work. Sometimes he's such a little baby," Harvey remarked, causing Tom to stifle his laughter and Greg to shoot both of them a glare.
Tom shook his head in amusement. "So did you guys come all the way out here just to do this, because I doubt that they'd send both of you to hand out employment opportunity papers."
Harvey nodded slightly and said, "You're smarter than they give you credit for. We're here to bring you back to the Holding Center after she's filled out the paperwork. There's a division-wide meeting that the Secretary of State called. All of us, from One to Sixteen. It's like a call to arms."
Tom's brow furrowed. "What, did we go to war with somebody else? Why all the divisions?"
Harvey shook his head. "We didn't go to war with anyone." He pointed toward the floor. "Somebody down there went to war with someone else. And that has the Special Divisions Head very worried."
"Hence the meeting?" Tom guessed.
"Hence the meeting," affirmed Harvey.
"Do I get to get dressed before I leave, or am I attending naked?" Tom asked jokingly.
Harvey nodded toward Greg. "That's his decision."
Tom sat in the largest auditorium the Holding Center had. Sixteen hundred agents of the Special Divisions sat quietly and waited for the speaker to arrive. To Tom's left sat Veronica, looking through a stapled set of papers and signing them every now and again. To his right were Harvey and Greg, talking quietly to each other and playing some kind of word game between the two of them.
Behind him was Allen, who for once was normal and quiet and withdrawn like he had been before the excursion to Scotland. Tom had asked about him and received just about the same answer from the Director, Veronica, and Jehrme, who Tom didn't ever see much of because he was harder to find than a giant squid.
Division Thirteen's members were all sort of offbeat, especially the occultists. So, after being told that it was just Allen being weird, Tom had dropped the subject and just dealt with it. He sat there, bored, and watched the solid granite podium as if their speaker was going to rise out of it when he finally showed up.
The Director sat stone-faced with the other Division directors, who looked less than happy to be here. Divisions Thirteen and Fourteen's directors looked like they were playing cards, Tenth and Ninth's looked like two matchmakers trying to pair up people in the auditorium's uncomfortable chairs. The rest were doing a variety of things, and only the Director looked anything close to serious.
From the right of the stage two men approached one of the Secret Service agents posted at the edge of the stage and spoke to him briefly before walking briskly back the way they came and making a number of shorthand radio calls. Then, they brought up another Secret Service agent who hurried onto the stage and stood behind the podium.
The auditorium began to grow quieter, but not by much. At this, the Director raised his hand and made a cutting motion with it in the air. As if by a spell, all of Division Two's agents went silent and the others followed in suit shortly thereafter. Soon, it was quiet enough to hear the scratchy background static the old mic naturally had.
The agent cleared his throat and looked around the room before speaking. "I've just been informed that the Secretary of State will be unable to attend this meeting as she has other pressing matters at hand both domestic and abroad. However, this will not stop us from completing our goal here today. Instead of the Secretary of State, the Political Underworld Advisor Jona Wilkins is going to explain the situation at hand. I urge you to listen carefully."
An elderly man took the stage and slowly made his way to the podium with a cane in hand. He surveyed the crowd from behind a pair of thick glasses and then collected his thoughts to speak.
"Good afternoon," he said slowly. "I am Jona Wilkins, the Political Underworld Advisor to the United States of America. I am both an appointed official here and an envoy for the lower worlds some of you are about to enter. I am, in years on earth, just shy of three thousand. In Hell, let's just say that I've been around long enough to know what I'm talking about. But before I begin, how many of you have ever had any contact at all with a demon before? All manifests and forms included. A show of hands is all that will be necessary."
A sea of hands arose from the crowd.
"Good, now all those with your hands down, please move to the wall toward the back of the room." He stopped there and waited for the mass of agents to allow their fellows to remove themselves from their seats and line up against the back wall.
"Now, raise your hand if you have ever injured, kissed, or spoken to a demon."
Again, hands went up, but this time marginally less.
Jona paused to blink a few times, rubbing the scraggly beard at his chin. He narrowed his eyes at the crowd once again and ran over its members with his keen, ancient gaze. "Those who have their hands down, move into the furthest rows toward the back, and those who have their hands up, move forward."
The makeup of the crowd changed drastically, and nearly a third of the present members made their way backwards while the rest move up.
"Alright. Let me see... Raise your hand if you have ever physically struck or had sex with a demon. Again, all manifests and forms apply. Hands up, move forward, hands down move back."
The crowd thinned considerably, and Tom's best guess at a glance was that only three hundred or so remained up front. The others began to look around as well, and they gave each other shrugs and surprised looks.
"This one applies to Division Directors as well. Raise your hands if your soul has ever been attempted on by a demon of any manifest or form." He waited for the information to sink in as the agents and directors thought. "If your hand is down or you are still unsure, move back."
Several of the directors stood and entered the crowd begrudgingly, but without protesting. Only three men and one woman remained on the stage behind Jona: Division Thirteen's, Four's, and Ten's heads, and the Director.
"If you are a demon, please rise and take the stage to my left, all those remaining forward, please move as far forward as you can. Directors, please move to the seats in the auditorium, in the front row if possible."
Forty or so demons presented themselves on the stage as the directors took their seats and the remaining few in the front of the auditorium organized themselves. Tom realized that there were less than a hundred remaining up front. He sat on the second row quietly near Greg, Harvey, and Allen and waited for Jona to begin speaking again.
His long, pale arm stretched out toward the demons to his left. "These are your bastion of hope in Hell, the very children of the womb you may soon enter. They are neither wholly good nor nefarious in action or emotion. But they are your allies. Understand that if even one of them is killed, then the odds of you returning from Hell are drastically reduced. They are not only invaluable to you, but to the United States of America as well, for without these forty-three demons, two succubi, slime, and seer, the nation you serve and protect would have collapsed an age ago."
He gestured into the front of the auditorium. "These men and women are the pride of your race, the finest and fittest warriors on a battlefield chosen indiscriminately by both sides in a pitched battle of wits, wills, and diplomacy. They are your most stalwart defenders here in your realm, and the tip of the spear that will be sent to Hell as a gesture of good faith and goodwill. Pray they survive, for every one that may fall lowers your chances of returning from Hell by half. A domino effect occurs when a human is killed in Hell. Once one goes, they all generally tend to follow in suit, either by loss of sanity or by a third party incurring their end."
Further out, he simply waved his hand left and right dismissively. "Toward the front of this divide are others whose value ranges from nearly as stalwart a defense to nearly useless. Though many of you will eventually return to a similar place as this in front of your peers, many of you will stay where you are in this hierarchy of experience and skill. And you lot against the wall, pray that you are never in one of these seats again, for it will mean a downfall from grace that you cannot imagine."
He turned to leave, but perked up and resumed his place at the podium for a moment. "And if your score was between two and three hundred on the survey you took recently and you are in the front of these rows or here to my left with the same condition, or received a Not Applicable and are within the previous boundaries, please follow me. Everyone else will be briefed and made aware of the situation growing in both size and concern to you humans."
He left the podium and made his way off stage right through a door that led further into the building. Tom looked around to make sure he was about to go with the right group. Veronica and Jerhme started off toward the door Jona had disappeared through, so Tom followed them. He and a dozen or so other agents hopped onto the stage and went through the doorway behind Veronica, Jerhme, and four other demons.
Behind them came two Secret Service agents, who closed the door behind them and said nothing to the group as they moved down a long, narrow corridor that no longer had a hollow, wooden sound beneath each step. It was solid now, but the walls and ceiling were still plaster and wood. Tom figured they must be going into the other side of the building, where the secluded meeting rooms and warehousing sections were.
Their pace slowed as they caught up with Jona, whose constant shuffle and cane smacking against the floor were the only noises in the entire corridor. Tom looked at Harvey and Greg for an answer to anything, but they shrugged at him and gave him just as confused looks as he had. Allen didn't look at all surprised or concerned in any way though. He looked rather bored actually. Tom forced himself to drop all his issues with the occultist for the moment and pushed the thoughts from his mind.
Eventually, the corridor ended and Jona opened a solid, arched door with a complicated latch mechanism that ground gears and slipped bolts out of place on the other side of the door. The old man stepped to the side in the room ahead and allowed the agents following him to enter. The two Secret Service agents closed the door behind the last of the agents and stood outside.
Tom watched the door-length locking mechanism begin to fall back into its closed position, dozens of time-activated bolts sliding across an intricate surface of gears and pulleys and needle tips that pushed and ground against each other until the door was secured shut again.
Tom turned back to face the center of the room, looking over the heads of the other agents. It was a walled circle of stone with a staircase that wound around the circumference all the way to the ceiling that was so dark and far above Tom couldn't see it. A chandelier hung ten or so feet off the ground, held up by a rusted chain with a twisted pair of copper wires running up its length.
Dim lightbulbs replaced the traditional candles on the chandelier's banded iron rim. Tom couldn't tell how old the place was, or even how it had gotten here in the first place. They were in the middle of a warehouse, and in the middle of it was a tower castle? Really?
"I need you all to sit now," said Jona in a stronger and louder voice than he had used on the stage. The agents moved toward the center of the room and Tom saw a round table surrounded by large wooden thrones that looked like they were hewn from a single piece of wood each. Tom sat down in one between two agents he didn't know.
One of them leaned forward and turned to him, grinning. "I assume you're Ceria's new toy," he said, revealing a fanged set of teeth as his grin widened.
"I'm not a toy," he replied.
"Enough," Jona barked, tossing his cane against one of the thrones. He moved around the table, surveying the gathered men and women closely. He didn't look like a keen-eyed old man anymore. His stature and stance had almost completely changed. His glasses were held in one hand behind his back, his other hand stroking his beard slowly. Broad shoulders filled fully the jacket he wore and his back popped audibly as he stood straight up.
"I have gathered you here to tell you that you are all going to Hell, and your personal files are being reviewed as we speak," he said in a commanding tone. "So I expect you to listen closely, because after this meeting is over, you are on your own before you are sent to Hell. Is that understood?"
Everyone nodded silently.
"Good. Let me start by telling you exactly where you are going. Well, what is happening first. The other agents are getting the long part of it, the socio-political nonsense that you humans use to formalize everything you say." He collected his thoughts for a few moments, looking off to the left as he tugged at his beard.
"There is a demon named Ceria, I believe you agents in Division Two know her as three oh one thirty, is that correct?"
"Yes sir," Veronica answered.
"Well, your friend has spurned her greatest and most persistent admirer one too many times, and has now incurred the wrath of his marshaled armies. Fentin, as he is called, is a hopeless suitor to Ceria's wealth, fame, reputation, and her body. He is also a nitwit and an idiot, but a rich and powerful one. Fentin has decided it prudent to declare war on Ceria's estates and force her to marry him and procreate."
He took a moment for the information to sink in. Tom was barely surprised somebody was getting Ceria back for being a bitch.
"This would normally be no problem, as personal feuds are very common in Hell and almost never have any effect on your realm or any of your nations. However, the United States of America has already accepted an invitation to a Festival of Triumph from Ceria, an unusual event due to the fact that her last one was declared to be the last she would have on her estate grounds. However, the fact of the matter is, that the United States of America has already agreed to send its agents to Hell for the festival, which will most likely end up coming under siege from Fentin's troops."
"Is this her personal estate or her family estate?" one of the demons from Division Four asked.
"Her personal estate. The fact that you all will be there while it is attacked, puts both Hell and your entire realm at risk of a diplomatic disaster. You are the third party in this conflict, a neutral third party. I say neutral with the utmost emphasis and importance. You will not fight anyone, even if you are attacked. You will not be designated an enemy by Fentin's or Ceria's forces until you take a hostile action. I cannot stress enough that you will not take part in any sort of combat while in Hell. The repercussions are tremendous, beyond you and everything you could imagine. One slip-up could cost both realms billions of lives. And I do not throw a number out like that to sound scary. Literally billions may die if you make a mistake."
The room went silent as Jona took his seat at a throne and looked at all the gathered agents again. He narrowed his eyes at Tom and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the wooden table and knitting his brow.
"I can smell her on you. Has she coupled with you?" the ancient demon asked.
"Who?" Tom asked, suddenly feeling like an idiot for doing so.
Jona sighed. "And men of your caliber are being sent to Hell now," he mused wistfully. "Ceria, dear boy, the only one of two demons I have mentioned that is a woman! Has she received any sort of sexual anything from you recently?"
"Yes sir," Tom replied as his stomach sank.
"Have you been sent to her more than once? Has she demanded you specifically?"
Tom nodded. "Yes and yes, sir."
Jona opened his mouth to say something, but caught himself, his entire body seeming to deflate as he exhaled disappointedly. "This is...very bad actually," the demon said. "I can smell her on you so strongly that you must have struck a sweet spot with her. She..."
He trailed off, his eyes fading quickly to a faraway place. Everything went silent. So silent that Tom thought he could hear the beating hearts of the agents all around the table. He knew it was just his own, but the sound was still deafening in the silence.
"She is going to use you to provoke Fentin. You're her new piece to play against him." His gaze fell directly on Tom. His vulture eyes stared right through the agent and into the fiber of his being. "It is too late to save you now. It would take a demon more vengeful than Ceria to be your guardian to protect you from her intentions. You would do well to make friends in Hell while you are there. And quickly."
Tom closed his eyes and let his head fall against the table. It was over. It was all over now. She had him right where she wanted him and there was nothing he could do about it short of getting himself killed before going to Hell.
"What's the matter, boy?" Jona growled. "Is the knowledge that you having to act according to your assignment scaring you? Are you going to crack? Do you fear death in Hell?" The ancient demon scoffed and put his hands under his chin, rolling his eyes.
"She's going to fuck me to death," the young agent moaned mournfully, wrapping his arms around his head.
"Like the one who tried four years ago? Is that right?" Jona said, pinching a nerve in Tom's emotions. The agent sat up and clenched his fists until his knuckles were white. If looks could kill, then even Jona would have slumped out of his chair in Death's hands.
"Pride is an ugly color on you," Tom said, watching Jona's expression falter, to his great surprise. No more was the smugness in his features prevalent. It was replaced with a solid frown.