7. A series of unfortunate events

Early that morning, Edward Bains was rudely awakened by a group of men who had welcomed themselves into his North Woodbine estate. They had already intruded into his room to see that he wasn’t there. The king sized bed that was meant for two but only used by him was empty. Instead, they found him lying on the couch downstairs in the living room, with an empty bottle of Jack Daniels lain drunkenly near by, along with a couple of adult DVD cases. They woke him up informing him that he was being taken to an undisclosed location for his own safety. They picked out appropriate attire for him and escorted him from the house, but not before he picked out a particular briefcase from his office.  A black Mercedes was awaiting him in the driveway. He couldn’t see inside, for the windows were heavily tinted. He climbed into the back seat and found that there was someone else in the car. She wore a pair of horn-rimmed glasses on her young face, her blonde hair neatly tied back in a bun. The car swiftly pulled out of the driveway “What is the meaning of this?” Bains demanded. “What the hell is going on?”

“As you may have already known, Mr. Bains,” said the woman as she fingered through a tablet device, “Project Archangel has gone terribly awry.”

“I’m aware of that,” said Bains, looking apprehensive. “Now tell me, where are you taking me?”

“We fear that your safety may be in jeopardy due to this series of unfortunate events. After all, your general safety is a concern of ours.” The young woman never looked at Bains during that entire spiel.

Bains detected a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but ignored it. “A series?” asked Bains. “What are you talking about. I thought the… escape was our only problem.”

“It was, up until now,” continued the woman. “But something else has occurred. After the accident, our people had the facility abandoned.”

“Standard protocol,” said Bains.

“But in their foolish haste,” she continued, “they forgot something of the utmost importance.”

Bains didn’t have to ask what it was. Judging by the tone in this woman’s voice and the gleam in her eye, Bains knew precisely what she was taking about. “The Knight Suit,” he sighed. “It’s been stolen.”

There was a short pause.

“We have come to believe that foul play is involved in this, sir,” said the woman. “The… subject is nowhere to be seen since they had not yet implanted a tracer. And now our excavation team has been found beaten and bruised, telling us stories that a ghost made off with the suit. Nonetheless, someone is out to get us, and now with that thing on the lose, our problems have increased exponentially.”

“When I catch the man who did this, I’ll-”

“What’s more important, Mr. Bains, is that all this has taken place under your supervision,” interrupted the woman.

“What are you trying to say?” inferred Bains.

“I’m trying to say that He is quite unhappy with this whole turn of events, Bains,”  she answered. “He has made you completely accountable.”

“Has he now,” said Bains. “Why am I not surprised.”

“I’m here to let you know that if the feds learn about the true nature of these incidents and connect them to us, you’re the one who will crash and burn. And on a lighter note, I would be granted an uneventful promotion.”

A spike of anger flared within Bains but it was unnoticeable. He calmly opened his briefcase and pulled out a silver, semi-automatic Smith & Wesson pistol, cocked it, and placed it on his lap. Its barrel was pointed at the startled young lady. “Let me tell you a story,” said bains. “Several years ago we had a young exec who showed considerable promise. I knew his type though: eager to please, and essentially a spoiled brat who used daddy’s money to get an expensive sheet of paper from a fancy-ass university.” The young woman listened attentively, keeping her eye on the gun. “Despite how clever he was though, he made the egregious mistake of going after a certain director’s job, always trying to undermine him at every turn. You see, at the time this director was overseeing a highly sensitive operation in a not so America friendly region, an operation that if linked back to us would have ruined our company’s reputability. So when this director learnt of our young exec’s ambitions, he offered him a position and sent him on some business errand to the war-torn region. As soon his flight touched down, the plane was overtaken by foreign mercenaries and our young exec was never seen again. There was no blow back from the operation, thanks to our unwitting scapegoat. And as for the director, he moved on to become the CEO of one of the largest corporations in the world. So what’s the moral of this story? In this line of work, don’t step on the wrong feet.” His voice was direct, sinister, and filled with malice, yet it was controlled with terrifying precision that seemed to have a hypnotic affect, like a Jedi mind trick.

There was an astounded look on the young woman’s face. She looked away, adjusted her glasses and fixed her hair,  trying not to look at Bains who was staring at her hard. Trying to maintain her prim and proper composure she asked, “Was that threat directed at me?”

“Oh, I don’t make threats, Eva Daniels,” said Bains grimly, calling her by name. “I make assurances.”

The car continued to drive across Lucicrescens, as Bains and Ms. Daniels remained in silence. Finally they came to an old looking apartment on Focus Island. Barely the kind of place one would find a corporate CEO living in. “You’d be staying here until further notice, Mr. Bains,” said Eva as she handed him a ring of two keys and a laptop. “Your room is on the top floor, number 1209.” Bains gave her a glance then climbed out of the car into the windy air. “One more thing, Mr. Bains,” she continued. Bains turned and looked at her. “He requested that you take care of this problem personally. He trusts that there’d be no more mishaps.”

Bains gave the girl a harsh look. “Count yourself lucky you don;t have my job yet.”

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