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Dark Dig 16 - A Battle Royal

by Bruce J. Spohn 6 months ago in Mystery
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Ancient Gods and Modern Drama

16 - A Battle Royal

A Battle Royal

Todd’s squad strategically took positions in the shadows near the entrance they were assigned. Their heads-up display showed a cluster of red dots around the area believed to be where the cult leader was. There was rapid movement from one room down the hall. Todd suspected it was their communication center and there were people rushing back and forth with new messages. He reported this to the commander and got confirmation that it was indeed a com-center and team one was assigned to take it out.

Ruth had been listening in while she focused on the dot’s movements. She whispered in Todd’s ear that there were two red dots descending in the elevator closest to their location. Two squad members took positions on either side of the door and waited until the last person in the group of five was outside before they closed in. Instantly they confiscated their phones and led them to the temporary detainment center.

Just as they returned, the power was cut off. This was the signal to attack. The elevators emergency system safely lowered the cabins to the basement where the occupants were greeted by the security team and were silently escorted to the detainment center. The four assault teams charged in the doors and ran up the stairs. Any people they encountered were herded together and stripped of their phones.

Team one burst into the com-center and secured all the computers and the three individuals that were caught completely by surprise. Team two broke the front door of the cult’s office and stormed in. A big burley man – possible a body guard for the cult leader – jumped up in an attempt to block team two’s advance. Instantly he was hit by three beanbags fired at close range, knocking him unconscious.

Todd knew if he could hear the commotion then everyone on that floor knew there was something going on. He signaled his team to break the rear door of the office open and to move in quickly. As soon as the door was open two of his men tossed “Flash-Bangs” into the office beyond.

Before the smoke cleared Ruth and Ben raced through the open door followed closely by the rest of the team. The element of surprise and speed of operation paid off. The only shots fired were the three beanbags. Now Ruth and Ben moved forward to search the offices to locate the cult leader. Todd brought up the rear cuffing the shocked followers they encountered as they proceeded.

Swiftly Ruth worked her way to the inner office. Ben stepped in behind her and moved toward a closed door. Using hand signals, he indicated she should take one side of the door while he opened it. The fact they were unarmed didn’t guarantee the others were unarmed. Ben “COOKED OFF” a flash-bang so it would detonate as soon as the door was opened. Ruth shielded her eyes, so her vision would not be affected by the flash.

In a well practiced maneuver, Ben jerked the door open and tossed the grenade in the closet and rolled away. The grenade exploded before it hit the floor. Ruth stepped forward and found a pathetic, little, middle-aged man cowering in the corner of the closet. It appeared he was clutching a big bottle of pills close to his chest. His flabby body was quaking as he sobbed. Ruth slowly moved to the open doorway. She held her hands out to show she was unarmed, hoping he would surrender peacefully.

Much to Ruth’s dismayed surprise; the cult leader suddenly dropped the bottle and jerked a knife from his waistband. All of the many years of training prepared her for this moment. At the first glimpse of the knife, Ruth’s movements were but a blur. Her right hand pulled back to her hip; fingers extended forming a shape resembling a spear tip. She squatted with knees bent; both feet were planted squarely on the ground. Ruth hoped her defensive stance would dissuade him from making a foolish decision.

To Ruth, the events that followed seemed to be played in super slow motion. In what appeared to her to be a maneuver from some silly cartoon, the chubby little man lunged forward. Ruth’s left hand effortlessly parried his stumbling attack harmlessly away while her right hand surged upward from her waist to his flabby torso just below the rib cage. Simultaneously she lunged with all her strength, driving her hand deep into his chest.

The cult leader stood there, as if in freeze frame, with his hand holding a knife still high over Ruth’s head. His eyes had the look of a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. With a savage jerking motion, Ruth pulled her hand back. She only paused a second to observe the still pulsating heart clutched in her hand, before the flabby man fell dead to the floor at her feet.

“Good God! Are you ok Ruth?” Ben gasped in total amazement.

“Apparently a hell of a lot better than him,” Ruth blurted, still clutching the now lifeless heart.

Todd rushed into the room just as Ruth released the bloody mass, letting it fall to the floor next to its former owner.

“Ruth are you OK?” demanded Todd as he shook her by the shoulders.

“I’m fine! This is not the first time I killed someone,” she barked as she slowly backed away from the pool of blood surrounding the body.

Todd and Ben took her by the hand and lead her to the other room where they sat her down on a couch. Ben pulled his canteen out and started washing the blood from Ruth’s hand.

Ruth shook Ben away and grabbed Todd impulsively and kissed him with all the passion she had. Todd wrapped his arms around her and responded in kind. With quaking sobs Ruth proclaimed her undying love to Todd. Noting that his presence was no longer needed, Ben set about securing the area and making sure everything was photographed and cataloged.

In an attempt to change the mood Todd quipped, “I hope that was the last adventure on your bucket list.”

Ruth chuckled nervously and took a long breath before she replied, “Maybe I will get a new nick name. Instead of Ruthless they can call me ‘HEARTLESS’!” she joked and erupted in uncontrollable laughter belying her shattered nerves.

Todd held her tightly, assuring her he was there to protect her.

“Todd please, be with me tonight,” Ruth begged.

“Tonight, and every night I promise,” he assured.

The INTRPOL commander was briefed on the situation and the death of the cult leader. He shared the results of the other raids indicating the total success of the operation. Todd was told his squad wasn’t needed in the clean-up and they were free to return home.

Todd told Ben he could use the BMW because he was going to take Ruth home. At that Ruth kissed him and started to run her hands openly over places normally not touched in public.

Seeing Ruth’s open display of erotic desire reminded Ben that he had someone waiting for him. He burned the miles between Athens and the small village like a formula one driver. He was greeted at the door by Fronia who was only wearing a smile and a delightful perfume. She started ripping at his clothing as they rushed to his room because it was closer than her room. They were both nude to the waist before they got to the door. Once inside the erotic passions exploded and the few remaining garments were quickly tossed. Fronia’s emotions, heightened by her fear for Ben’s safety caused her to tackle him forcing him to fall backward on the bed.

She literally leaped on top of him and deftly positioned herself to receive all his manhood. The turbulent storm of lust resulted in many twisted positions and unabashed debauchery. Hours passed and their fire burned hot. Their bodies quaked as cascades of orgasms rocked them. The sun was high before their hunger for each other subsided and they discovered they were hungry for something more substantial.

Fronia lead Ben to the kitchen where they were greeted by the four other passion partners. No one said a word, but suddenly everyone was laughing at some secret joke they seemed to have in common. Eventually the laughter subsided, and Carol asked about Ruth.

“Oh, I’m sure she is doing fine. Todd decided to take her to his place to comfort her after what she went through,” Ben offered.

“What do you mean? What happened? Was Ruth hurt?” Carol demanded.

Realizing his audience knew nothing of the events of the raid, Ben gave a detailed account of what transpired the night before. When he got to the final confrontation between Ruth and the cult leader, he provided excruciatingly vivid details of slime balls last minute on earth. Just as Ben was concluding his story, Marcus’ phone rang.

“Hello – Hell we were just talking about you and Ruth. We are all still at the house. I think everyone deserves a day off to get things sorted out. Why don’t you grab Ruth and come over? We can relax and have some good conversation and a great meal and I think Jason and I did not drink all the good stuff—great! See you two when you get here,” Marcus concludes.

Marcus rejoined the breakfast conversation and informed everyone that Ruth and Todd will be there later.

Sharing and Caring

Ellen was on the grand veranda looking down the long gravel driveway long before anyone heard tires crunching on loose gravel. She waved her hand high over her head when the car came to a grinding halt at the foot of the stairs. Todd got out of the driver’s side and rushed around to open the door for Ruth. He slipped his arm around her waist as they ascended the long staircase. As soon as Ruth reached the massive veranda, Ellen wrapped her arms around her.

“Oh, dear God! You are all right! I was so worried about you, but you are a strong woman,” Ellen whispered in Ruth’s ear.

By the time she released Ruth the veranda was filling up with the rest of the family. She took Todd by the shoulders and kissed both cheeks indicating he was now accepted as family. After boisterous greetings were exchanged, they retreated to the comfort of the garden. There were several tables filled with different snacks and assorted finger foods. Jason opened a bottle of local red wine and then indicated he also had some Irish whiskey for the more adventurous.

Everyone grabbed a plate and filled it with the delicious offerings and glasses were filled and re-filled. All around the table conversation started skirting the topic everyone wanted to discuss but were hesitant to push to the front. Ruth could feel the tension in the air and took a deep breath before stating, “You do realize this is not the first time I killed someone in the line of duty.”

With the ice finally broken, everyone had a question.

“Yes, this was the first time I killed someone with my bare hands. I still can’t understand why he decided to attack me. I showed him my open hands to prove I was unarmed. But when he pulled that knife my years of training kicked in. Funny – if anything about killing someone can be funny – he would have stood a better chance if I had been holding a gun. I tend to hesitate to pull the trigger unless I’m being fired upon. We are trained to aim at non-lethal areas, like the legs or arm. In hand-to-hand combat I was trained lethal force is the minimum force,”

“Ben did give a rather vivid account of how you handled yourself,” Marcus injected.

“Strange, even though I have practiced that maneuver for years, I really thought I might hit his solar plexus and stun him. The training dummy was much tougher, and I never achieved any real penetration. This pitiful specimen was soft and flabby. I aimed for his solar plexus, but was off to the left and I was shocked to feel my hand clutching his heart,” Ruth confessed.

“I was there and I have trouble dealing with the trauma. That is why you will be required to get an evaluation and a doctor’s release to return to duty with the FBI and specially to go to work with me,” scolded Todd with a stern face – that melted into a grin – that morphed into a smile – that ended as a passionate kiss.

Ellen cleared her throat loudly, “well it looks like you two have taken this partnership thing to a higher level,” she chuckled.

Ruth punched Todd on the shoulder and explained, “Sometime in the middle of the night Todd took advantage of my traumatized condition and asked me to marry him. I guess in my compromised state of mind I wasn’t able to think of any good reason to object, so I agreed.”

“It was not an unconditional surrender though,” Todd added. “She had a long list of demands and at that moment I was in a rather weak position so I agreed,” he joked and kissed her even more passionately.

Looking around the table he could see everyone was similarly engaged. Ellen was the first to recover from the grip of passion.

“Todd, ‘LOVE IS IN THE AIR’. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say you two make a perfect couple,” Ellen commented.

“Before I completely forget, the inspectors said they will give us a Skype video update on the operation at four P.M. to let us know about the over-all effectiveness of the sting,” Todd added.

“I’m really looking forward to that report,” Ben added.

Todd looked toward Ben and saw Fronia was squirming restlessly on his lap. He could only imagine that her restlessness was associated with something she was setting on.

“Well, now I know why you were in such a rush to get back here Ben. Looks like you and Fronia really don’t need any assistance from the terrible drug. In fact, it appears everyone here is feeling the strange presence in the atmosphere. Ellen, have you been keeping secrets from everyone?” Todd inquired.

Ellen started laughing so hard she had to put her hand in front of her mouth. Her laughter must have been contagious as soon everyone was laughing and clandestine glazes were exchanged.

“Todd, there are some things that just can’t be kept secret. I confess, I was aware of Carol and Marcus’ romantic entanglement almost before they actually met. The Gods were so focused on their significant future they didn’t report on the gathering threat to the women working at Marcus’ dig. I’m still unsure why that event was not even hinted at. Now that everything is over, maybe All their excitement was for more than just Marcus and Carol. It appears there was a requirement for some great international event to put into motion, the intricate machinery of the universe to bring lovers from far away close together,” Ellen reminisced.

“I’m sure you have faith in your Gods, but I really don’t understand what you are talking about,” Todd protested.

“Todd, Ellen and her Gods are well known around here. I personally do not subscribe to her mumble-jumble, but many of the locals think she really has some connection. I must admit there are many things she predicted that came to pass and I have no scientific explanation. Ellen always points out gravity worked long before we had a name for it, so maybe she has just tapped into some physical phenomenon that we have not found a way to measure. I can’t say I’m a believer, but after so much evidence I at least listen to what Ellen says,” Marcus confessed.

“Well Mom always gave me good advice. I remember when I first started dating, Mom said it was ok to go out and have fun but there was no one in the village that was right for me. She told me the Gods had a better plan and she did not want some local fisherman’s son getting in the way. That was when she took me to Athens to an ‘OBGYN’ to avoid everyone in the village knowing my private business. I’m pretty sure Carol remembers the circumstances of our first meeting. At least she was very discreet and never mentioned anything about the event. I remember telling Carol it was funny that she came to my boring village. I even laughed at Carol when she said she came here to escape her boring small-town existence. Wow, I never thought this place could be so exciting, but Mom assured me that something good was coming my way and now I have Ben,” Fronia babbled and kissed Ben very passionately.

“Yes, I do recall how you warned me of the boring life you suffered, but at the time all I had on my mind was being re-united with Marcus. I was still trying to figure out why he had not picked me up at the airport. From the moment Marcus greeted me, I was swept up in this international intrigue. Ellen seemed to know more than she was willing to tell, but then maybe she really did not comprehend the scope of the plan the Gods put into motion,” Carol speculated.

Ellen sat silent through all this. Her eyes closed as if deep in meditation. Suddenly her eyes blinked rapidly, and she turned to face Ruth.

“Ruth, you are so quiet. I thought you would have some questions about what your role in this drama is,” Ellen challenged.

“Well now that you mention it, I sort of see your point about Carol and Marcus. However, Fronia and Ben and me and Todd, I just can’t see how we all fit into your tidy tale,” Ruth countered.

“Yes, I must admit at first, I could not see any connection, but then I thought about what brought you to Greece. Todd came here because he heard reports of some kidnappings and INTERPOL and the FBI were being involved. So, his curiosity and possible job opportunities brought him here. He knew Ben from other assignments but did not know Ben was working with you. Todd hoped you would put a good word in to Marcus if he was seeking a security team and prepared a presentation designed to be the best price with the best security possible. So, what event caused you all to be here in Greece at the same time working together? That’s right, the kidnappings! Now, I’m sure the FBI does not believe in coincidences, so you must admit that everything points to some grand plan to set the wheels of the universe to turn ever so slightly to bring everyone here together at the same time,” Ellen pontificated leaving a pregnant pause for thought.

Ruth shivered visibly as Ellen’s words sank in. “Hearing your explanation really gives me the creeps, Ellen. I mean everything you said makes as much if not more sense than any explanation I have tried to stretch over the existing facts,” Ruth conceded.

“What time is this briefing supposed to take place?” Jason asked as he stood up. “I think I’ll get the kitchen staff busy fixing dinner. Seems we sort of had a late brunch, but I’m getting hungry. Maybe I can find a bottle or two to go with the meal. Marcus, you want to come help look for those bottles?” Jason inquired.

Marcus looked at Ben who expressed the need to remain nearby, so Marcus waved off the invitation to peruse the wine cellar.

Jason headed toward the cellar and called out over his shoulder, “I’ll be back,” in the worst possible Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation.

Debriefing

Ellen gave the kitchen staff some instructions and then returned to the group to listen in on their conversations. As expected, the main topic was the operation from the night before. Both Ben and Todd were slapping Ruth on the back and praising her for such an extraordinary maneuver.

Ruth was only half listening because her primary focus was on her tablet. Apparently, the FBI HQ was tracking the sting very closely. Her mailbox was filled with communications from a variety of departments. A quick perusal of the emails from outside her department showed they were mostly “AT-A-BOYS” Once she got past the clutter, she was surprised to find that her department head had taken the reports of the sting and all the lab reports and turned them over to the CIA. She was about to say something when Ben shouted, “Holy shit! My contact at the lab just informed me that the CIA is getting involved.”

“Yeah, I was just notified by the director about that decision,” Ruth confirmed.

“Hey Ruth, seems like you have become sort of folk hero. Everyone is talking about how you took that guy out,” Ben gushed.

“I still can’t understand why he decided to attack,” Ruth commented shaking her head.

“Who knows what goes on inside the head of a psychopath. He might have been hyped up on some drug he concocted that made him feel like ‘superman’, or he just saw an unarmed ‘girl’ and he had a knife so he thought he could take you out. Maybe he was just dumb ass crazy. It’s natural to try to understand what happened, but you did exactly what you were trained to do and in the most professional manner.” Todd asserted.

“I suppose you are right and that is the reason for the psych eval. Just give me a while and set up the psych appointments and I’ll be a good girl and comply,” Ruth assured.

Out of the corner of her vision, Ruth saw Ben waving to attract their attention. Carol and Marcus were already pulling chairs up to the table to get a better view of the monitor,

“Hey, you guys, the inspectors are starting the debrief,” Ben shouted.

Todd took a stool next to Ruth. He was so close their thighs touched. Ruth gave into temptation and rested her hand on his thigh. This little gesture was not lost on Carol. She had to cover her mouth to conceal her smirking grin.

Marcus barked out a typical Greek greeting when Inspector Campus stepped into view. For the first time in several days a wide grim was smeared across his freshly shaved face. From all the movement in the background it was clear they were not in their normal conference room.

“Please excuse the background. Everyone is celebrating the successful operation. But let me begin, in total there were twenty locations targeted. Seventeen were on land and three ships in international waters. The international taskforce sustained no – I repeat NO CASUALTIES. For the record the commander of your group has been reprimanded for his decision to send you in armed only with beanbag guns,” Campus reported before Ruth interrupted.

“Oh, please don’t be too hard on him. We were all talking about this just this morning and I pointed out that it might have turned out worse if I had a gun. I tend to hesitate pulling the trigger especially if I’m not being fired upon. So having to rely solely upon my unarmed skill caused me to react instantly,” Ruth injected.

Campus cleared his throat before continuing, “Yes, I see and with incredibly deadly skill I might add. But it was his decision put the entire team in jeopardy. Fortunately, no one was injured. All the land locations were easy to take down as the bogus message traffic had them scrambling around trying to locate the person who was leaking information. Since this involves international cooperation, I will turn the rest over to Inspector Borga,” Campus grunted as he made space for Borga.

The two men stood slapping each other on the back and kissing both cheeks in the warmest of cordial greetings for a very long time before Borga turned to face the camera.

“Thank you all very much for everything you have done to make this operation a tremendous success. The land operations resulted in many arrests and all the ‘kidnapped’ women were taken into custody and admitted to a special detention hospital for medical evaluation. All the women have been subjected to the ‘Tears of Aphrodite’ and we must try to see how much mental damage has been done and determine if the damage is permanent.” Borga explained and paused to consult his notes.

“We also engaged three ships in international waters. Our colleagues from the FBI may find it surprising to learn that INTERPOL has a unit patterned after the ‘Seal Team Six’. This operation required the coordinated effort of three teams of ten divers. Thanks in part to the confusion created by the bogus messages the divers were able to board the ships and quickly and quietly take control of the ships and their cargo. As of this moment they are still inventorying the cargo, but clearly, they were filled with ‘Tears of Aphrodite’. The fact this cult was spread throughout Europe and northern Africa it is certain their goal was to create chaos and fear to disrupt the function of governments in the area,” Borga was interrupted by Campus, who was pushing a paper in his direction.

“Excuse me. It seems we have just received a flash message from our consulate in Iran,” Borga took a moment to read carefully the short document. Borga barely finished reading the first sheet when three new pages were handed to him.

Borga coughed loudly to clear his throat before he continued. “We have some fast-breaking news from Iran. Last night the top researcher at the largest pharmaceutical company was found dead in his home. According to early police reports he was found drowned in his bathroom. Apparently, he stepped on a piece of soap and fell hitting his head fatally on the bathtub. The police report notes there was no sign of foul play. Then there is a report of an explosion and fire at the biggest Pharma Company resulting in the total destruction of the facility. This last report is most disturbing. The Iranian defense minister is reportedly dead. The police report is very sketchy, but from what we have learned he was attacked by a ‘MOB’ of sex crazed young women and in the frenzy of an orgy he was beaten to death,” Inspector Borga choked out the last line with his eye budging as if unwilling to believe what he just read.

Ben looked in Ruth’s direction and nodded with an all-knowing wink. Ruth winked back but said nothing. Todd shifted uneasy in his chair and was about to shatter the awkward silence, but Ruth squeezed his knee tightly and he understood there were things best left unsaid. The silence hung heavy, like a blanket soaked in blood, over the assembled group. At long last, a thin female voice rang out from the last row of seats.

“Maybe it is Ellen’s Gods seeking to balance the scales of Karma,” Fronia declared.

Hearing this emotional outburst, a frown clouded Broga’s face, but it quickly morphed into a smirking smile. He let the pause continue a moment longer, then took a deep breath.

“These tragic events only prove how frail the human condition is. I’m sure the world sees this tragedy and sends thoughts and prayers to comfort the innocent victims. As to the balance of the scales of karma, that is best left in the hands of God. But now to return to the briefing, three ships were boarded and over 100 crewmen arrested. We were shocked at the number of drugs they were smuggling. They are still trying to inventory the contents of the ships. With the help of the FBI cyber division a virus was developed and the cults communication system infected any attempt to use this system will set off alarms around the world.” Borga added.

The briefing continued, as department heads came forward to stress the role they played. Ellen lost interest quickly because she was not directly evolved. Seated on the very edge of the view she felt safe in running her hand up Jason’s thigh.

Carol tried to focus on the details being put forth, but Marcus was pressed tightly against her and she felt the heat radiating from him. Candidly, Carol scanned the gathering and noticed Fronia holding Ben’s hand pushed under her mini skirt. Even Ruth was giving Todd goo-goo eyes.

After a few more department heads reported, Marcus leaned forward to reach the button to terminate the video. He hesitated to thank everyone for all their dedicated hard work while Carol playfully slipped her hand under his waistband and down the smooth expanse of his firm ass. Carols erotic attack was more than he could withstand and he abruptly mashed the termination switch.

“When will dinner be served,” Carol inquired of Ellen is a soft sultry voice.

“Oh, I instructed the kitchen staff to have dinner ready at six. So, you have a little over two hours. I plan on spending that time to the very utmost of my ability. I think you have similar thoughts,” Ellen crooned in reply.

Vicarious Connection

Ruth was the first to speak after the monitor went blank. “Well, I think I need some rest. I didn’t really get much sleep with all that happened racing through my mind,” she mumbled through a wide yawn.

No one was a bit surprised when Todd put his arm around her waist and guided her to his room as it was closer. Before the door closed behind Ruth and Todd everyone else was well on the way to the sanctuary of their bedrooms.

Marcus was all too aware of the surging demands made by the vicarious co-habitué of his physical being. All of his senses were heightened; he could actually smell Carol’s level of arousal. Carol’s blatant erotic actions made it clear she was no longer even trying to resist the powerful spirit raging within her.

The massive door had not latched before they savagely attacked the clothing blocking free access to the hot flesh of each other’s bodies. In a flash of lusty maneuvers, they landed on the great expanse of the king-sized bed devoid of and clothing. Unabashed they each sought out their special gratifications.

Like oiled snakes Carol and Marcus writhed and' slipped, twisted effortlessly assuming the perfect position and maximum penetration. Lost in the incoming tide of erotic bliss, their beings were washed with wave after wave of growing orgasmic delight. Aroused by the touch and feel of sexually charged flesh combined with the smell and taste of sex sent them both soaring to their private universe.

The vicarious nature enabled them to experience sex from every possible point of view. They were both active participants and voyeurs. They experienced the orgasmic summit as both male and female simultaneously. In that explosive moment of total fusion, the immortal and mortal were permanently melded.

The chamber seemed electrified. The lovers lay drunk breathing an atmosphere reeking of an intoxicating mix of sweat and sexual fluids. Even the ancient walls seemed to still echo the explosive screams and cries accompanying each orgasmic detonation. Neither gave any consideration that those sounds were not echoes but were in fact the result of the other couples finding their way on the path to total erotic release.

Eventually the lovers fell back to earth and the realization of hunger pains reminded them of the need to clean up and dress for dinner. With exaggerated effort they pulled themselves out of the sweaty sheets and stumbled into the shower. When Carol was satisfied that the water temperature was correct, she gingerly stepped under the jets of water letting it massage her exhausted muscles. She was not surprised when Marcus stepped in to share the shower.

Marcus always said it was a time and water conservation measure, but it always seemed to take twice as long because neither could resist the temptation to prance and dance the tango of lust. They both enjoyed the wild stimulation and savored every second splashing around under the relentless water jets.

Having forgotten to inquire about a possible dress code, Carol was unsure of what she should wear. She stood studying the contents of the closet while Marcus slipped into a pair of khaki slacks and a dark blue polo shirt. He came up behind her and suggested she wear the bright red mini skirt she borrowed from Fronia and the white silk blouse from Ellen. He slapped her on both cheeks of her exposed ass, leaving a reddened handprint on the pale alabaster skin.

Marcus dragged a fresh razor over his craggy face to remove the two-day accumulation of stubble while Carol slipped into the suggested outfit.

Carol glazed at her watch and was shocked to see it was a quarter past six. Tugging Marcus by the arm she burst through the door and rushed to the dining room. She was relieved to see they were not the last to take a seat at the table. That honor was saved for Ruth who ambled in with Todd sheepishly following her.

“Sorry that we are late. Time just sort of slipped away,” Ruth apologized while pulling her seat up to the table.

“Oh, you are not all that late. Ben and I got here just as Ellen and Jason came in about ten minutes ago,” Fronia chirped.

Todd was blushing like a school boy returning from his first big date. Eager to redirect the conversation he started filling his plate and commented on the splendid offering. His diversion worked. Everyone started to indulge in the feast prepared for them. Apparently, everyone had worked up a ravishing appetite. They attacked the food with the same gusto they had perused their lustful passions.

Soon, quiet conversations referencing the quality of the food and the elegance of the table setting consumed everyone’s attention. The light chatter continued to tap dance around the elephant on the table until Carol took a long sip from her wine and set the glass down with exaggerated determination.

“I hope we are all mature enough to accept the fact that we all have gone through a very stressful situation, and we need to feel free to discuss the way our lives have changed. I, for one, want to talk about the future,” Carol opened.

“I agree! Just a few days ago I was laughing at you because you said you came to this boring village because you were looking for adventure. Wow, was I ever wrong! In fact, I considered asking for Mom to talk to Dad to have him pay for me to attend college somewhere in America, but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study. Mom always told me my future was not here, but it would be found here. That never made any sense to me, but then Mom often said things that did not make sense and yet came true. Maybe she can get the Gods to provide some clues,” Fronia injected with a girlish giggle.

Ellen was about to respond but paused long enough to give the servants an opportunity to serve a devilish delightful desert.

“I notice all the men present are conspicuously silent. Maybe they just require more of Jason’s tongue lubricant. As for the Gods, they remain mute. Perhaps they feel they have done all they can. With the unification of the immortals with those chosen the future has been determined. Perhaps they are powerless to do anything more. It seems when it comes to planning for the future it always falls to women. Carol, I think now would be an excellent time to engage the men and hammer out some decisions that will shape each of our futures. Yes, we must accept the fact that in many ways we are all bound together in some cosmic quest,” Ellen contributed in a strange almost unearthly voice.

Jason jumped up and proclaimed, “Maybe this would be a good time to fetch some of that ‘tongue lubricant’. Please do not save the universe before I return.”

“I was hoping you would catch my non-to-subtle hint. Don’t worry about us solving all the problems while you are away, but your desert stands in pale,” Ellen quipped.

Todd sat silent; his face twisted is a scow of deep concern. Clearly, he had a lot of questions, but was not sure where to begin.

“Ellen, I’m not sure if I can speak for all the men present, but I have been thinking about your explanation and how the Gods nudged the wheels of the universe to bring us all together. I feel flattered that they care so much about me, but that is why I question that explanation. We are not the only ones impacted by the recent events. To start, what fate did the two inspectors earn? What about all the families of the women kidnapped. Then think about all the people involved with the cult and how many were injured or died because of the drug they distributed,” Todd challenged.

“Todd, you raise important questions. The very same questions I have harbored in my heart all my life. As I said the Gods do not speak to me in any language. I get feelings – omens – flashes of insight, but no email from any particular God. So, whatever I say is merely my mortal attempt to explain the incomprehensible. I think the Gods have very limited power or they restrict their use of power due to the fact that every event sets off a domino effect cascading around the world – maybe even the universe. So, for the Gods to create a major event the collateral damage might be so great they could not control the results. But if the Gods are capable of seeing the future and can perceive events that will happen regardless of their action, they could nudge people into positions without as much risk,” Ellen explained in as simple way she could.

Marcus grunted and looked like he was about to launch into his typical denial, but Carol grabbed his arm and she took the pause as a chance to break into the dialog.

“Whereas there may not be any empirical scientific evidence to support your theses, I think we all have seen how there must be some intelligence guiding the way we all came together. Todd mentioned the two inspectors. They too may have been summoned to participate in this event for reasons we are not privy to,” Carol speculated.

“Funny you should mention our two inspectors ‘friends’. I think I spent more time working directly with them than anyone. Early on I got the impression they thought they were assigned to this case with the expectation of failing. Sort of like Ruth and me. From the beginning the case was a very far back burner issue. Kidnapping is serious, but these women were not big Hollywood names nor children of diplomats. I found I often had to rely on assistance from friends rather than the normal protocol for assistance. That was a driving consideration for my decision to seek a position in the HQ and get out of the field agent business. That was before I realized maybe I should consult my wife before I make any decisions on my future employment,” Ben beamed as he kissed Fronia.

Fronia blushed instantly, a deep red and returned his kiss with twice the passion. “If that was a clandestine proposal, I accept,” gushed Fronia and she kissed Ben again.

Jason returned with his arms full of diverse bottles just in time to fill everyone’s glass, as the room exploded with cheers and applause. Ruth stood up and raised her glass to the young couple.

“Ben, you continue to amaze me. I think I do not need to consult my partner to offer you a position in CYBEREYE. The pay would be comparable and the working conditions much better and if that does not work out – hey you have a rich family,” Ruth toasted.

“Ben, I really want you to know I think you have made an excellent choice. Yes, Ben, Ruth and I were talking about the need for a person to coordinate all aspects of the operation and I can’t think of a better qualified person than you. But before we get too drunk celebrating your engagement, I want to get more info from Ellen. So, you think this was all orchestrated by some mythical Gods and now we can hang a big ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ up and drift away into the sunset?” Todd argued.

“Yeah, Ellen what happens now?” Marcus asked.

Ellen burst out in uncontrolled laughter. It took Ellen a while to regain her composure. Still fighting to catch her breath Ellen turned to face Todd.

“Have you two been sleeping or just suffering from too much alcohol? Remember earlier I said events have a domino effect – rippling out around the world maybe even throughout the universe. I will try to explain it in a way simple enough even a man can understand,” Ellen sighed in exasperation.

“Well to tell the truth, I’m not sure if I totally grasp what you are saying, so please try to make it so everyone can have a better understanding” Carol coaxed. Ruth and Fronia both voiced their desire to learn more.

“Well, I always think of life as being some very elaborate pinball game. At birth you are sort of launched into the game. Please spare me any birth cannel jokes and try to pay attention. The pinball game is filled with obstacles – bumpers, springs, flippers and traps. The pinball has no control over the obstacles it can only react to the event and be sent off in a new direction, possibly a new spin or speed. The point being the ball is not in charge, the ball only reacts to the forces it is exposed to,” Ellen lectured.

“Wow! Ellen you are not the only one with this concept. While I was counting the days before my trip here, a friend of mine gave me a copy of a book she said her father wrote. At first I thought ‘oh boy vanity press’ and tossed it on a shelf. One day I was bouncing off the dorm walls anxious to be with Marcus. I decided to read the book thinking it might bore me to sleep. I was relieved to see it was not some dowdy memoir. The premise of the story was that we are all formed by the events of our lives – I think it was titled ‘Lovers by the Lake’. It turned out to be a special - heartwarming love story It showcased the lives of the two protagonists to show how the events that they could remember had shaped their lives from silly teenagers and morphed them to become two lovers. He did not use ancient Gods to explain the changes; rather he let the individuals recount their personal history. Ellen, I think you and this author have much in common. I’m sure that even Marcus will admit that his life is constantly being affected by the events around him,” Carol proclaimed.

Ellen sat listening intently slowly nodding her head. “Very interesting indeed, I would love to read that book. I do seem to express the same theory. Yes, that is truly strange that you should be introduced to the concept in this way. Could it just be coincidence or guided by some deity? Whether you believe in the influence of Gods or not I think we can all agree we are all affected by events, over which we have no control. As to Todd’s comment about hanging a ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ sign up and drift away into the sunset – what else can you do? Life goes on. We must move on to face the next event and hope our past has prepared us to master each challenge we face,” Ellen asserted with a voice of ancient wisdom.

Jason was busy filling glasses, but paused long enough to comment, “I’m sure our lives are permanently fused, and we will be seeing a lot of each other.”

Todd smiled at Jason and replied, “I’m sure Ruth and I will find ample reasons to visit Greece frequently.”

Ruth raised her glass and toasted, “I’ll drink to that. Everyone at the table joined in the toast.

“I’m still quivering with joy because Fronia accepted my rather perplexing proposal. We have talked about her desire to get out of this small town and see some of the exciting places in the world. Todd, I would be most honored to work on your team. I suppose I would be working someplace near the DC area with multiple opportunities to travel to different locations around the world. I’m sure Fronia would rejoice at the chance to explore the world at my side. Naturally with frequent visits to her home,” Ben asserted.

Fronia’s only response was a wildly passionate kiss and sliding her hips onto Ben’s lap. Everyone took that as a positive reply.

After the laughter subsided over Fronia’s passionate response, Carol looked deep into Marcus’ eyes. It was clear he was a man of the world. He worked hard all his life to climb the college power structure to achieve a level of international recognition. Simultaneously she felt her own fight for freedom and adventure raging deep within. A troubled expression distorted Carol’s face as she pondered possible responses. Carol was still deep in thought when Ellen burst into her interrupt her contemplation.

“Dear, you do not need to say a thing. I know both you and Marcus are free spirits and can’t be tied down to one location very long. You have completed the meld and from your spirit formed one. Just as Jason and me. We don’t have to ask each other as we ‘already know’ what we are thinking. You can ask Fronia as she has experienced how we seem to communicate without speaking. In fact, you might have noticed how Marcus seemed to anticipate your thoughts already. Even though you both will wander the world searching for new adventures your souls will be forever tethered to this village. There is a real reason Jason and I maintain this place and the last remains of a culture that has been left behind. I can’t say what the Gods have in store for you, all I can say is let every event in your lives together prepare you for the challenges ahead,” Ellen warned.

“Gee, that seems a bit anti-climatic. Maybe we do need a ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ SIGN. Something to mark the end,” Carol suggested.

“Would a double wedding satisfy that requirement?” Todd shouted and winked at Marcus.

“Todd, I’m beginning to really like the way you think. Do you think we can get the ladies to agree?” Marcus responded slapping Todd on his shoulder,

Ruth held her hands in front of her face unable to hold back a torrent of tears of joy. Carol put her arms around Ruth’s shoulders and their bodies quaked as their joy was released. Ellen smiled and looked the two men in the eye.

“That better not be one of your childish jokes, Marcus, because their answer is a resounding YES!” Ellen scolded.

“Could we make that a triple wedding,” Ben inquired.

Fronia erupted in a blood chilling scream and jumped up and down uncontrollably. Instantly all the women were in a tight huddle making plans for the GRAND EVENT.

At this sight, all the men shook their heads and followed Jason to the study. . . It was clear he had the best course of action, two new bottles of bourbon. They all agreed they might even require more bourbon to prepare for the upcoming events, over which they knew they had no control.

Mystery

About the author

Bruce J. Spohn

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