Mercenary caught on bachelor show. Dealing with a villan with unclear intentions.
|The red brick mansion loomed in the distance. The man in his early twenties watched the gate to the beautiful yard beyond it. One guard? His intelligence said to expect heavy security, something was wrong. He slid the wireless receiver in his ear and pressed the number marked Whisper on the smooth glass of the smartphone.
"I see you made it in one piece Cyrus," Whisper said.
"Do you have eyes on the inside yet?" Cyrus asked.
"Just about, how was the trip down to Georgia," Whisper attempted to sound southern by pronouncing it Jawjaw.
"Why am I here?" Cyrus asked amid the clicking of keys in his ear.
"Several people reported something inhuman wandering the grounds. It fits the description of a Tupilaq or a similar magical construct. Foreign affairs wanted us to look into it because we are expendable," Whisper said brightly.
"Nice to know feasible deniability is still a thing. Do you have an idea why it's hanging out here?" Cyrus asked, checking over his equipment.
Whispers' voice got squeaky and high, meaning this job had something to do with the Hollywood tabloids she had taken to reading since the loss of her leg, "Yes, this place is the sight of the next Bachelor show, called Enchanted hearts." Whisper was clapping excitedly.
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
"Nope, the latest issue of In Touch says Savannah Georgia will be the backdrop for the next season. They start shooting next week. Justin St. Clare, the communications titan, is the bachelor. His father has been leaning on him to meet someone."
Cyrus was worried about his surrogate mother and business partner. Since the loss of her leg, she had become distracted. She had been talking about quitting, and he couldn't imagine doing the job without her.
"I am in...shit. Get moving, its a tupilaq, and I have two dead guards at the door." Her voice got high and squeaky again, "They are filming the first episode. Get Justin's autograph for me? Hey, maybe you will meet someone."
The gatehouse was a mess, a uniformed guard was face down in a pool of blood, and his arm was two feet away from him, "How nasty is the tupilaq?" Cyrus was already heading to the front door.
"The cameras are old. I am trying to clean up the images. Do you think Justin is nice?"
Ornately carved doors met him, a heavy brass lock stared him in the face, "The question is do I fucking care. Can you hack the door?"
Whisper sounded annoyed, "No, I can't. Remember your manners, people in the southern states are all about them."
Cyrus was not happy. His hard aura constructs cost him energy every time he used them. Taking out this lock would weaken him, and usually, it would be a small sacrifice. Given his opponent was a flesh golem, who didn't tire or bleed out, every drop of energy used reduced his chances of winning.
He formed a combat shotgun and fired an exploding round from it. Instantly the loss of energy made him a little dizzy. He steadied himself with a hand against the door. A six-inch hole had taken the place of the lock.
Cyrus kicked the door open only to be grabbed by powerful talons and thrown into a suit of armor standing near the door. He looked up and saw the hulking bears body with a wolf head. In the middle of its head was a glowing green dot. Why wasn't it ending him?
"Cyrus. I repeat Cyrus...shit," Whispers panicked voice said.
"Stay out of my way intruder. Quite obviously, you are not strong enough to fight my little creation. Go home or die," It said, rising and taking off down the hall.
Cyrus pulled himself up, his entire body was aching from crashing into the metal suit, "I got paid, and I will see the job until the end." The house was huge and no time to search all the rooms, "Where did it go?"
"Ballroom, its down the hall first door to the right. Are you strong enough to finish out the job?" Whisper asked.
"I suppose we are going to find out. Someone put the puppet strings on it. Lets hope the controller can hold his focus, or the damn thing will kill everyone in the building." Cyrus said, bouncing off the ballroom door and landing on the soft carpet.
"Smooth Cyrus, very smooth," Whisper said. Cyrus could tell she was laughing at him.
"Whisper, you can make fun of me later. I need another way in," he said. At this moment, Cyrus wished he had stayed in bed. Whatever he got paid for this job, it wasn't enough.
"How do you feel about rappelling?"
"Whatever it takes."
Five minutes later, he was standing over the skylight to the ballroom. Big and ugly was looking at a group of women huddled in a corner, "What the hell is it doing?"
"I think it's looking for someone specific. Justin is safe, thank goodness..."
"If he dies, everyone will look bad, and I kinda have the hots for him," Whisper said sheepishly, "By the way its a social faux pas to drop in unannounced."
Cyrus tapped the skylight, "Hey, I am coming down. Not my fault they didn't hear me." He double-checked his harness and pulled a glass breaker from his vest. He leaped down, using the rope to slow his descent, while his free hand coalesced the spiritual energy into a razor-sharp blade.
"I'm in. Our friend doesn't look happy to see me," Cyrus said, taking up a ready stance, creating a second blade. The hard spiritual constructs looked menacing.
The creature rushed him, covering the distance in half a second. Cyrus felt the ground shake beneath his feet. He dove forward dodging the massive creation.
"Do you have a plan?" Whisper asked.
"Avoid certain death, hack the stupid construct to pieces, and burn it," He said, running up the wall and flipping over the massive beast. He was face to face with the group of women. All of them were white with terror, frozen in their fear.
"Do you know which one it was after?" Whisper asked.
"I thought that was your department? Where is the smallest room?"
"Why? I will start looking through their profiles."
"A smaller area would restrict its movements. I don't stand a chance at the moment," Cyrus ducked as the talons left long claw marks on the wall where he was.
He rolled under its long arms in an attempt to lead it away from the girls. The green light in the middle of the tupilaqs forehead was now flickering as it turned to face him.
"Our puppeteer is fighting for control, where are we with the small room?" He asked. He moved an aura blade in a deadly arc. Two claws fell to the ground, "Well, it's a start."
"Twenty feet to your left is a door to a tiny men's washroom. I can't say how effective it will be at holding the construct," Whisper said urgently.
Cyrus looked over and saw the door. It felt like it was a million miles away. The green light was flickering faster, "Time to speed things along. Take a picture of the Tupilaq and see if we can identify the stitcher."
"You're doing something stupid, aren't you?"
"This whole mission is stupid. When in Rome, Whisper. When in Rome." He rushed toward the wolfish monstrosity, bellowing, with sword raised. The creature drew it's fist back as Cyrus threw the blades away, causing them to vanish. He formed a shield blocking the powerful strike, flying ten feet towards the bathroom door.
Cyrus scrambled to his feet, forming a cape. He waved it wildly in front of the Golem-like creature, "Come on, ugly. We don't have far to go."
The creature growled with rage, "Time to die pest." Once more clawed feet met the marble floor, echoing around the room.
Cyrus held his ground, "How do I let you talk me into doing these stupid plans?"
"I talk you into stupid plans?" Whisper said in a high voice. "I am one hundred years old on the inside because of you."
The hulking beast was closing in on Cyrus. He tensed up, ready to move. He locked eyes with it, slowly backing towards the bathroom, "That's it stupid, just a little closer." He waited until he could see the whites in its eyes before diving to the side.
The bathroom door fell inward, tripping the undead creation. It fell prone, with Cyrus hot on its heels. He hacked an arm off only to have the creature roll over and threw the severed arm at him.
The appendage began unbuckling his armor, "Fuck my life." Cyrus yanked the arm off and threw it down on the ground. His shoulder guard went with it.
The beast was on its feet now, and the arm was crawling back towards it. Whoever was controlling it put some kind of regeneration on it.
"Listen to this, Thalia Doughtry age twenty-four, natural beauty...," Whisper started to say, as Cyrus cut the dismembered arm in two.
Cyrus closed on the creature who had torn the toilet off its moorings, hurling it at the mercenary, "Is she who the creature was after?" He rolled forward, feeling the porcelain graze his back.
"No, I thought she sounded perfect for you," Whisper said.
"Can you stay focused?" Cyrus asked in an annoyed tone. Whisper had been doing this for the last two missions.
The massive construct swung with its arm clumsily. Cyrus dodged the massive paw, "I have to bring you down to my level..gack."The severed arm was now grasping his throat, choking the life out of him.
The beast laughed cruelly, "I can end your misery, auramancer. Join me, and I will release you."
Cyrus was gasping for air. He stopped struggling and focused he formed a small knife as the black appeared on the edge of his vision. He stabbed the arm, and it released him from its iron grip.
He spoke in between gasps of air, "Funny thing about us auramancers, we are immune to our power," He said. "Let's end this. I would like to get paid, and forget I was ever here."
Cyrus was implacable and used every ounce of skill to hack the beast to pieces, "This isn't over. I will have my prize." The head rolled across the marble floor.
"I will be waiting for you, asshole," he said as he started to gather up the body parts. He formed a rope and bound all of them together tightly. He dragged it outside.
When he got outside, Cyrus piled the parts like a campfire, found some gasoline, and lit them up like Christmas. He turned and saw a cameraman filming the whole thing, "Do you want me to talk about this?"
The cameraman nodded enthusiastically, "Yeah, the boss asked me to. Thank you for saving us by the way."
"When in Rome, Cyrus. When in Rome," Whisper said in an amused tone. "Do you think they will make you a bachelor?"
He looked over at the greasy cameraman, "Did I kill it on live TV?"
The cameraman nodded, "Yeah, it was probably the most compelling story I ever filmed."
Whisper's voice got high and squeaky, "Oh, my foundling is going to be in the tabloids, I will frame each issue..."
Cyrus tuned Whisper out and looked at the camera, "Okay, so all this used to be a Tupilaq. They are flesh golems made using Inuit magic. North of the border, they are common."
The cameraman was into the conversation, "How dangerous are they?"
Cyrus didn't take his eyes off the corpse. He watched it burn, despite the fact it smelled rancid and caused his eyes to water a little, "Very dangerous. If you create one, it can't see your face, or it will kill you. You can't send a tupilaq against someone more powerful than you, or it will kill you. If it has no master, it just kills indiscriminately."
The cameraman took a few closeups of the fire, "It doesn't sound like a worthwhile endeavor."
"It rarely is. We call people who make them Stitchers. They are akin to bomb makers. We have a database that matches designs to convicted stitchers," Cyrus said, turning to face the camera.
Two men in fancy suits were walking towards them. They had a greasy feel to their personalities and their cologne, was off-putting. A ridiculous man ring adorned the hand of the man with the jerry curl. The other must have been his stooge because he trailed two steps behind jerry curl.
"What do you think they want?" Whisper asked.
"If you wait for ten seconds, we will find out," Cyrus said.
"Your lack of curiosity disappoints me."
"The job is over Whisper. I expect this to be a short conversation."
Jerry curl flashed his best false smile and extended his hand, "Henry Craft at your service. What happened in the ballroom was impressive..." C
Cyrus scoffed and resisted the urge to punch this guy in the mouth, "I would call what happened in there, lucky. Its creator was controlling it remotely and is the only reason why everyone is still alive. State your business or get the fuck out my face."
The stooge stepped forward Henry shoved him back, "Settle down Nigel, our friend here would thrash you." Nigel looked dejected as he stepped back.
Cyrus ignored Craft, "Are you stupid, Nigel?"
"I went to Harvard," he said, with clenched teeth, glaring at him.
Cyrus laughed, "I am sure the next creature will stare at your degree with awe. Run along now, and let the adults talk, we might unsettle you with reality."
Nigel scowled and narrowed his eyes, "I will show you who is unsettled...," He started to say.
Henry shoved him back, "Go check on Justin and then the girls."
Nigel and Cyrus locked eyes. He could feel Nigels hate from twenty feet away. The young security expert back down headed off to work.
"Give him a couple of years, and he will do alright for himself," Cyrus said, looking at the burning body.
Henry stood next to him and pointed at the creature, "Are you a mercenary?"
"Do you think there will be another attack?"
Henry looked troubled now, "How much for your services?"
"A job offer? I like Henry a little more now. Maybe you can get autographs from the rest of the girls." Whisper said.
Cyrus crossed his arms and leaned against a parked limousine, "What would I be doing?"
"Figuring out who is behind the attack. Most of these girls come from prominent families and old money. I know three women have, government officials for dads, and I think one is the daughter of a foreign diplomat. In short, if anyone gets hurt or killed, I am screwed."
"Sounds good to me Cyrus. It might open up some international jobs. We both know that's where the real money is," Whisper said excitedly.
"Except now, my face is everywhere. Our job requires a certain amount of discretion. Being famous does not inspire confidence."
Henry looked confused, "Are you talking to yourself?"
"No, I am talking to my partner. She is interested. How much does the job pay?" Cyrus knew Whisper would push him to take the job, and considering the whole world knew about him now, it was wise to take it.
The producer pulled out a pad and wrote down a number, "Will this cover everything?" He held up the pad to Cyrus's brown eyes.
"I could retire, take a vacation..."
"Or put it in the bank and take the next job," Whisper said.
There was a bitterness to her voice. Cyrus knew something was bothering her, "What is your problem?"
"I want out Cyrus, I am almost forty, and I would like to have a child of my own. Raising you was my greatest joy, I have loved every adrenaline-pumping moment, but it's time," Whisper said. Cyrus could hear her heartbreaking on the other end. If she wanted out, why did she stick around?
"Why are you still doing the job?"
"Why do you think?"
"If I knew the answer, why would I ask?"
"I worry the job is all you will know. It would please me if you met someone for a change. Someone who has nothing to do with the job," Whisper's voice pleaded. "Come to think of it, that is my price for helping you this time. Your promise to at least try to meet someone."
Cyrus paced for a few moments and chewed on Whisper's words. He could do the job without her, but her ability to manipulate tech was second to none. Deep down, he wanted to make her happy. She had sacrificed a lot for him, "I will give it a chance, okay, Whisper."
Henry watched tapping his foot, "Well, are you in or out?"
"I want half the money upfront. I will also have to interview each woman individually, starting yesterday. I also need footage sent to Whisper, see if the camera caught anything unusual, for starters," Cyrus said gruffly.
Henry nodded, "I agree, providing you help bring Nigel along. His father wanted him to get some experience in."
Cyrus looked at the blond man in the Italian suit, "Fine. Let's get started."