Nectar-Sucking Wasp and a Stinging Butterfly
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Captain Dick Wadley and his duty crew arrived at eight in the morning. Working for Wall Soft Systems was an easy job for the ex-navy officer. The landlubber CEO wanted a yacht’s prestige but he was too seasickness prone actually sail anywhere. The boat was kept seaworthy with rotation shifts and the full crew only had to report for duty on the few occasions when Bob was bored with the scenery and ordered relocation—like today.
“One dinghy is missing.” The first mate reported.
“Hoist anchor anyways.” The seasoned Captain scanned the coastline then dismissed the minor loss. “I’m not responsible for improper stowage of gear when we weren’t onboard. The boss or his guests likely didn’t tie it up after digging for clams.” That had happened before.
The big marine diesel engines purred on their fuel like savanna cats lazily digesting an antelope. The ship was already pointed out into open water, so Captain Dick patted his helmsman on the shoulder.
“Engage.” Imitating Captain Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek’s Enterprise, Wadley issued the order to his number one. The transmission locked into the forward gear, but the boat lurched violently ahead as the throttle slid to the full setting. “I didn’t call for warp speed.”
“I just nudged it,” the flustered mate flopped the control handle back and forth to demonstrate a malfunction, “and the thing jerked like the cable linkage was spring-loaded. It seems to have snapped off to.”
“That part worked perfectly.” From his concealed location on the spit of land, Tariq heard the motors suddenly roar as starving lions and pounce at an unwary prey. The boat surged and tilted up at the prow, as propellers churned fast and drove forward. A modification in the linkage ensured a small pressure would jerk the cable to maximum. With the supporting nut removed, the throttle’s safari was on a one-way ticket.
“Just take it apart and fix it.” After his initial shock, Captain Wadley still wasn’t overly concerned. “We can steam some fast circles around the sound until the problem is corrected.” This was such a nice boat and the role it served for the Wall Soft owner was a tragic waste of her potential. “The cylinders need the carbon blown out occasionally anyways.”
[Break out the bilge buckets.]
“Friedrich Nietzsche said ‘one cannot fly into flying’.” The saboteur glanced sternward to where the submerged set of cables showed increasing tension. “Tariq and Loki say one only can fly—until the fly flies open.”
As the trim ship hit close to top cruising speed, a first pair of wire rope chokers found their full extension. Up near the bow, the drywall anchors drilled and set into the two sides of the hull ripped free. Those tore away jagged sections of fiberglass at the waterline.
“What in hell?” Before the words had cleared his lips, a second pair of pins tore free: Captain Dick gripped the edge of the bridge dashboard as the ship shuddered in response to the hull breach.
“Even from here, that sounds painful.” Tariq’s mental vision saw the close-up effects of his handiwork. With the boat accelerating to pairings of plugs, the hull’s destruction was a quick succession. Twenty such sets of bolts would rip open a double slash, as two huge zippers down the ship’s length, from shredded stem to gashed stern. Like a suitcase flap opens to allow contents out the top, so would the keel separate at the perforations. “It gives the term ‘tear along dotted line’ a humorous new application.
“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” The stunned officer screamed into the radio mike. “The bottom is falling off my vessel!” His prediction was succinct and accurate: water rushing over the hull wounds pulled away sections of fiberglass. Under the bow, the keel opened up like a yawning jaw and the ship swallowed a long gulp of seawater, right to the propellers, as two spinning tonsils. “Abandon Ship!”
“I’m now impressed with Bob’s wealth.” The Canadian couldn’t resist laughing. “Many rich folk have yachts but few have submarines.”
“Mr. Wall is going to be really pissed off!” The Captain offered as a boatswain’s mate swam to share an inflated life raft.
“Bob Wall won’t even know the half of his problems yet.” As if he had heard the comment, Tariq chuckled at what he alone still knew.
[Plundering an illicit drug outfit was a nice bonus.] The Norse trickster gave his approval of the now fully sprung ensnarement. The cable system was likely used to transfer bales of product between a ship and the shore.
“We don’t need to stay and risk being caught by the Coast Guard.” The satisfied spectator saw the boat’s crew had found rafts or floating wreckage to cling to. He backtracked to the stashed get-a-way dinghy.
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‘ZZIIIPP!’ Bob’s face was sticky with dried sweat and when his cheek peeled off the leather sofa: it felt like just a step down from what a beard waxing might be like. His wall clock showed ten in the morning and the only solid sleep he had all night was in the past two hours of his tardiness. The billionaire rubbed at a crick in his neck and the motion caused him to notice just how badly his armpits reeked. “I smell like a yak’s saddle.”
“I need a shower attached to my office.” Well, he could use one today but if he spent the money for an installation, he might never need the use of it again. Bob made a mental note to evict the resident from the office next door and have a lavish bathroom installed: the rich man was notoriously frugal on everything except his own creature comforts. He then prepared to start his day, by unlatching his outer door and rolling his premium quality chair up to his monitor.
“What progress has my task group made since getting the code key sequence yesterday?” He checked his computer: the special sub-unit was under strict orders to keep him advised of developments. “With luck and by throwing enough money at cracking the ‘Handshake Lite’ program, I can be rid of that incriminating message.” Absorbed in the update, the CEO didn’t notice either the knock or Collin Hersker entering the office.
“Yipes!” Bob glanced up and was shocked by an unexpected intrusion. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“Were you sleeping through my last five attempts to reach you?” The question was redundant as the CEO’s case of bed-hair visually answered it.
“After last night,” Bog shrugged off his appearance with a small smile, “anything today will be awesome by comparison.”
“I doubt you’ll think that way after I’ve told you of the morning you’ve missed.” There was no gentle way of putting this so the Colon blurted the news point-blank. “Your yacht is a total write-off and is currently in pieces on the bottom of Puget Sound.”
The boat-less man gripped the side-rails his shopping-cart desk and he looked up incredulously, but his lower jaw’s bouncing on the blotter top produced no discernable words.
“That’s just the positive news.” After the morning the asshole endured, he felt enough like his namesake implied, to relish being the herald of these woeful tidings. “The Coast Guard also found a dead body floating where the boat had been anchored and a nearby illicit drug enterprise. Authorities are considering pressing charges: the potential legal expenses may run as high as the uninsured value of your flagship.”
“Uninsured value?” Overwhelmed by the cascade of catastrophic info, Bob fixated on the last and probably the least important snippet.
“The yacht wasn’t moved often enough to make covering it for cruising cost effective.” During this morning of Bob’s absence, the other Wall Soft executives and staff had unofficially promoted Hersker to the position of point man: they had been steadily dumping ice-cold information on him by the bucketful. “It was insured against specified perils while at anchor only. Apparently, you stipulated the policy rider yourself.”
“I don’t know,” Wall winced on thoughts of the boat’s cost but he did recall the paltry amount of money he had saved: his mind grappled with the next item, “of any drug operations.”
“The Coast Guard found evidence of your complicity.” In one morning of acting in the CEO’s stead, the special executive had learned as much about his employer as he had in the previous months. “Your bare-knuckles approach to fighting speeding tickets hasn’t gleaned you any expectation of slack from the law enforcement community.”
“One dead body?” This one Bob knew about. At least the other corpse was chained to the bottom of the bay. Of course, the way his bad luck was running, Navy Seals might be already scouring the seabed.
“As yet, the male victim is unidentified.” The contract executive had a strong inkling of who it was. “Wrongful death by drowning is indicated.”
“This isn’t all as it seems,” Wall lied, “nor as bad as it looks.”
Collin Hersker didn’t respond. Instead, he just stared down at his boss. The man’s software theft and all these new indications of wrongdoing had him wondering if the job was really worth his staying on.
“In light of new developments,” Bob sensed his employee’s wavering, “I’m doubling your rate of remuneration—effective immediately.”
“What should I be doing?” Hersker hesitantly accepted the bribe and set his qualms in abeyance. Besides, resigning now meant he might never satisfy his seriously piqued curiosity.
“Keep managing business as you have today.” Bob answered after a moment of blurred thought. Perhaps it was better anyways for the CEO to be free to concentrate on his new priorities—both the business and the pleasure ones. “I’ll be busy for the rest of the morning.”
“We’ll talk more this afternoon then.” Collin turned to leave.
Bob felt a sudden pressure in his bowel and tried to let it slip quietly. ‘BRAACK!’ His gaseous rectal baritone reverberated loudly enough that the retreating employee couldn’t help but overhear it.
“I need to take a nasty dump,” as the door closed, the computer nerd put a face into cupped hands: with the action came the mingled aromas of methane gas and morning breath, “but my ship’s bathroom is underwater.”
“There’s a washroom next door.” A silly grin broke the horrendous start to Bob’s day. That facility was complete with a slave girl to wipe for him if he so demanded it. The master needed a fresh start with her. “This time around, she’ll run along the my-way highway.”
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“Almost nothing is better than a long hot shower.” Lyra revolved to let the searing stream cascade down her back and her mind hearkened back to the morning after her rape. The steam in the enclosure was too thick to see her hand at the full arm’s extension and at first, the impatient thumps on the locked door seemed as her heartbeats echoed in warm fog.
“Hurry it up in there!” Wall had his pelvis thrust forward to hold his bowels from moving, “I really need to go!”
“~In that case I’ll take even longer~.” The slave girl called out and the knocking subsided briefly. Eighteen minutes later, the stream of hot water had grown cool while the pounding had simmered up to the intensity of a jackhammer on a concrete block. Making him wait longer isn’t worth my standing under a cold flow.
“I can’t pinch it off much longer.” The CEO’s knuckles thundered desperately but he was fully committed: he couldn’t make it to another toilet. Fortunately, he didn’t speak loudly enough to be heard clearly or the reluctant slave might’ve delayed longer. Bob unbuckled his belt to relieve abdomen pressure and to save time for when the door finally unlocked. “I’m about to crap in my pants out here.” He hissed quietly.
Lyra slowly wrapped her body in a towel to the tune of a continuous din. She could picture the man dancing outside the door.
“Please, please, PLEASE!” His frantic voice was plaintive and Bob’s rear cheeks were as tight as he could possibly clench them. His one hand was even trying to assist his posterior muscles in holding firm.
His urgency is my weapon of opportunity, the slave unlatched the door and opened it slightly, and this seems like time to pull the trigger. She casually turned her attention to examining her reflection.
“I need privacy.” Wall waddled to the toilet as quickly as his pressed together knees allowed. Could he wait for her to finish up and leave? A cramp provided an instantaneous answer—no!
The girl swiveled from the mirror to directly observe his dilemma. This is an embarrassing situation for him so I’m not leaving quite yet. His look of consternation turned to one of agony.
“I can’t hold off any longer!” Bob let go his grip on both his ass and his pants. He started to sit but his anatomy took the slight bend as a signal to commence the over-delayed evacuation. The forceful rush into the bowl was loud, messy, noxious, and in progress even before his thighs contacted the cold porcelain: the seat was raised.
“Pooh!” That word is interpreted as the stench of excrement in many languages. Lyra wrinkled her nose in disgust. She stared at Bob as if she considered him as disgustingly foul as what he was putting into the toilet bowl—which she did. Fanning her face, the woman vacated the room.
Mortification flushed Bob’s face to such a brilliant shade of red that it was almost purple: he felt his ears could burst into flames. The software tycoon finished his bowel movement but his cheeks, both sets, throbbed with shame. He stripped and stepped into the shower only to find both taps yielded ice water. Maybe he should’ve opted for that larger hot water tank.
“I expected sexual bliss from owning a slave.” The final damper on his strained morning hygiene routine was in having to put smelly socks back onto his clean feet. “No, it’s not her fault. It’s just that too much has gone wrong over too short a time span. Tomorrow, everything will improve.”
Didn’t Bob believe that yesterday too?
On arrival in Seattle, the Canadian had taken a studio apartment in the trendy Bell Town area. Restaurants, pickup bars and busy nightclubs lined the street. They stayed loud until late but the noise didn’t particularly bother Tariq, and his roommate stayed up 24/7 anyways. The programmer had a cot to sleep on, when his work permitted, but that was secondary to the needs of his computer. The server had all the comfortable frills, like multiple Internet access points and an uninterruptible power supply.
“A truly competent thief would seek better knowledge of the item he was stealing.” Tariq cracked his finger joints and sat at his keyboard. “For all he knows, Wall could be fencing an elaborate forgery of his program.”
“What nuggets have shown up in the sluice,” a few keystrokes found the web domain that had been going non-stop since Low-Key was stolen, “while I was on my immorality weekend and my immortality vacation?”
“In the future,” he briefly considered the nearly fatal liaison with the alluring double agent barrister, “try avoiding such boneheaded stupidity,” he accessed the output file his program had been amassing, “or just face the true fact: my real problem wasn’t in the upper brain being of bone.”
“Have I snagged my primary target?” The hacker did an alphabetical sort on his file and began scrolling through the long list. “Imagine how peeved the customers of Bob’s latest upgrade be, if they knew a Trojan function was reporting sensitive information to a malicious third party?”
“Hello Sheik Ghazi bin Omani!” Tariq stopped his scan at the name of his previous employer’s corporation: entries from numerous sub-units had been collected. The program reported both where it had been installed and how that computer accessed the net. This information granted a sneaky back door, that a hacker could slip in through.
“Doubtlessly, Wall is using my Low-Key application as well.” He resumed his scrolling and quickly found the W’s. Yep. “I’ve got Bobby by the short unauthorized hack hairs too.”
“Well Loki, my tagalong cohort, who should we diddle with first?” Tariq stared at the monitor and tapped his finger idly on his upper lip while waiting for a response that didn’t materialize. What good is an imaginary playmate that doesn’t answer when beckoned? “I have to select for myself then. I suppose it’s Ghazi’s turn, since Bob already lost his fancy yacht.”
“Engaging stealth mode.” The computer expert loaded several small applications to make his searching covert. Seen in retrospect, a position in high echelon system management at bin Omani wasn’t the marginal skill usage he expected. Thwarting hackers gave invaluable knowledge of how to become an exceptionally adroit one.
The newbie hacker switched off his mental and verbal commentary to snoop Omani Corporation’s net for an exploitable vulnerability.
“My love slave needs to forget this morning’s nasty shit.” That was accurate in both respects: the encounter wasn’t pleasant but the literal crap had been especially foul as well. Bob frittered away the rest of his pre-noon period with half-hearted stabs at his work. His non-productive labor was lavishly interspersed with daydreams about the girl in the adjacent chamber and in hatching schemes of how he could bring them to fruition. “I have to give her a few hours to forget and I need a mental diversion to prevent me from fretting about my mistakes with her.”
“Let’s discuss the task force progress.” The CEO sent an instantaneous text in a popup box to his adjutant and within moments, Collin arrived. His bleak synopsis was substantively less than anticipated.
“I don’t see what the problem is.” Bob leaned back in his chair. He removed his wire frame bifocals and pinched the bridge of his nose. “We know the code keys, so we should see where in the program they point to.”
“The task force found that easily but when they take the message out and recompile, the program stops working altogether. The developer not only inserted this notice, he also used the text lettering as function names that are integral to the operation.” Actually, Hersker was impressed by the insidious code but it gave him a niggling concern. The program might be doing more than can be seen. He dreaded broaching that subject though.
“Couldn’t we modify the text to read ‘Wal-Sof’ instead of ‘Low-Key’? That’s the same number of letters. We can adjust the variable assignments wherever those letters are found standing alone.” The CEO was ready to grasp at any straw. It was only a matter of time until somebody, probably a disgruntled Wall Soft employee, leaked the keystroke combo. He could envision websites springing up telling the entire Internet community how to bring up the irritating screen.
“That didn’t work either. The software’s author dispensed values to the letters and changing them creates math errors in the program’s algorithm.” In the Norwegian language of Collin’s heritage, his surname of Hersker translated to master. The second executive was quite willing to assign the title to the code’s master programmer. “He didn’t equate them with the standard ASCII table either, so determining whether another combination can arrive at the sum is a puzzle of several hundred million permutations.”
“I thought having the sequence was sufficient.” The Iranian’s words, ‘I’m the only one who knows everything’, haunted Bob’s thoughts.
“Was the floating corpse a certain Canadian programmer?”
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
“If you want me running interference then I need to be aware of what I’m buffering you from.” Hersker’s mind had weighed possibilities of this implication. He already had a pay raise but this presented an opportunity of promotion from subordinate to confidant: was he prepared to accept the consequences? If I divulge my speculation, I can hedge my decision. “In any event, you should be aware of a potential landmine in that Low-Key code. That is one intricate little program and we haven’t determined all it is doing while it’s working—it might be an insidious Trojan.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” Bob’s brain cogs kicked into overdrive and the gears were spinning too fast for his tongue to encapsulate spoken words around them. Security issues could ruin him as badly as the theft, murder, competition and many public image nightmares. He stared in silence at his employee for a pause—inflated with anxiety. “The developer jumped off my boat—that’s the honest-to-God truth.”
“And your Russian visitors failed to catch him in time.” Collin cocked an eyebrow at the jumped description.
“One of them went into the water and he didn’t resurface either.”
“Do we know which floater the authorities found?”
“It’s most probably the Russian one.” Bob confessed. “The Canadian was weighted down by a heavy chain—but he really did leap.”
“That’s one shred of positive news.” Hersker couldn’t believe he had implied a probable assisted suicide was good but the younger executive wasn’t naive about latitudes allowed to the ultra rich. Collin rationalized that he was distant from the deed and that his primary concern was his duty to the corporation. “Law enforcement affiliations with North American neighbors are tighter. It’s much less likely an Eastern European will be identified. Is there anything else I need to be aware of?”
“A Russian girl is staying in my apartment.” Bob wasn’t sure if Lyra impacted on the situation but he spilled the detail anyways. “She may have witnessed the event but I’m certain that my bodyguards didn’t.”
“I surmised the suite was for something like that,” Collin’s eyes strayed to the door, “but your legal team could have you waltzing from felonies faster than you can type O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. The software is still the preeminent danger. You should have offered him a job.”
“The Canadian wouldn’t work for me.” The Wall Soft head snapped. “He grimly dived to his death and he carried another man along with him.” Bob then recalled how fearful he had been in that moment—even with the Mafia goons around. His tone towards his one trusted employee softened. “Go out and flog my special team. I pay enough people sufficient money to be getting far better results than what I’m presently seeing.”
“Later then.” Collin marched away though his vital topic list was only partially addressed. Who committed the vandalism on the boat and what was the correlation between that and the deaths on that particular day?
The distraught CEO watched the asshole’s retreat. As the door closed, he loaded the digital video of the delectable Russian porn-actress. As the inexpertly filmed movie clip played, Bob’s mind ran a rendition of events up to this moment. All I wanted was my due.
He swiveled his chair to face his love nest. Why should he only see her on a screen when she was locked behind the green door? He tacked a memo on his skull’s inner wall to have the wood-grain portal painted to match Marilyn Chamber’s porn classic.
“Getting laid would take my mind off my troubles.” So what if she had watched him sitting down on the feces he had squirted onto the toilet rim? “She’s my property and I can order her to forget that episode.” The slaver moved to the beckoning door. “Babe, here comes your big sugar-daddy.”
“I’m so bored,” Lyra was face down on the bed,” I almost wish the ultra-spoiled cretin would visit me—so I could torment him.” She had spent the morning snooping around her delimited domain. It was stocked with every creature comfort imaginable but it was utterly devoid of mental stimulation. “How does he expect a human to exist this way? I suppose he hopes I’ll dote whenever he deigns to grace me with his grand personage.”
“She wasn’t elsewhere in the apartment.” Wall whispered as he slowly twisted the bedroom doorknob: he opened a crack wide enough to peek in. The stunning girl was stretched on her belly with her feet pointing towards him. She didn’t appear to have heard the latch click.
Did I remember to close the deadbolt? Lyra didn’t react to the noise except that it put her onto red alert. I don’t think so. The eyes in the back of my head aren’t working but I have other senses. She took a breath and held it so as not to interfere with detection of sound or air pressure change.
Her jutting butt encased in a gossamer gown was an irresistible lure. Bob’s sex-drive raced and his feet followed. He owned and controlled her. He would surprise her with a leap into his position of supremacy and then carry forward from there.
From the door to the bed will take three running strides. On a second thundering footfall, the girl had a mental picture of the room and tracked his progress through it. Now! She flipped onto her back and instinctively brought one knee up in defense. Her eyes then found his body stretched out in mid-air: the flight arc was slightly higher than she had envisioned it. I have time to adjust for a perfect strike. She repositioned her braced leg.
“FUGGG!” The CEO’s expulsion was comprised more of air, than of sound. Pain upon horrific pain! His entire weight dropped on the boney knee, which was situated in the tender groin. Agony wasn’t the sensation I had hoped to achieve in my genitalia. Tears formed in his eyes before his inertia had even finished inflicting all of the damage.
“~Bulls eye!” The young woman tried to put enough fake sympathy into her Russian words to make him think she had said ‘I’m sorry’.
Rolling in suffering, the stricken man dropped off the bed and onto the floor. He solidly struck his head on a leg of the nightstand but barely felt the fresh wound over the intense torture in his privates.
“~Testicular trauma?” Lyra peered over the edge of the mattress to enjoy the effects of her handiwork.
“It wasn’t your fault.” His gasping voice was two octaves higher than normal. The initial shock of the impact receded and he took a shallow breath. “I know it was accident but it really hurts.”
“~I intentionally kneed your family jewels.” She jabbered consolingly in Russian. “~If they swell to big purple eggplants, I want to poke them.”
“Uh-uh—uh.” Bob started to retch as the full flavor of his pain spread from groin ground zero, like the ripples in the water of a thrown rock.
“~Don’t barf in my bedroom!” Leaping quickly off the bed, Lyra dragged at his elbow and headed for the bathroom. “~Each time you’re in here it’s associated with a ghastly mess and a revolting stench.”
Bob clamped his mouth and managed not to blow chunks until he was in the toilet’s vicinity. The rim was still filthy with his dried crap but his vomit was too urgent to wait.
“~A shit-covered toilet is the only lover you deserve.” Lyra left him with his arms passionately wrapped around the fixture.
After his lunch was ejected and his stomach had quelled slightly, the CEO curled up on the cold tile floor and considered the girl. His slave was a treasure but he had to wonder if she had some ancient Slavic curse? Wall had experienced naught but bad luck since he saw her porn video. “It did sound like she cared about me though. I just wish I knew what she said.”
“I’m far to busy to learn to speak Russian but she has scads of spare time.” Bob decided to ensure she had a television and DVD player with all English movies. She would have full access to magazines and books but only in his language. His slave wouldn’t be needed for her real purpose until the pain in his nuts subsided. He tried moving but a renewed spasm wracked his gonads. “I need a prescription for world-class painkillers.”
“As ships that pass in the night—only to sink.” Tariq chuckled at his discovery. “This could do nicely and the Sheik might take it as a personal insult.” The Iranian had probed as deeply as possible into the bin Omani system and scanned affiliated networks to confirm his scheme’s viability.
[A rusty broadsword in the vitals is vulgar but effective.]
“The bin Omani central network security is a thicker armor than I can effectively stab through.” Tariq pinched some beaded sweat off his upper lip. “Bin Omani Oil is just a sub-unit owned by the controlling group but even that had shielding too tough to penetrate.”
[All armor has chinks.]
“Yes, and I outsourced my dilemma.” The man grinned wickedly. “A company doesn’t perform all functions internally and not all suppliers have the same dedication to hack prevention. This corporation for example, is Omani’s ship builder and they have kindly provided me with information.”
“The Malaquawi is a tanker named after the Sheik’s favorite childhood horse.” Just now Tariq was looking a spec sheet for one of the company’s crude carriers. “Beam, length and displacement equals yada-yada: it’s big and important to the company.” He called up the ship’s engineering diagrams and scrutinized them.
“I don’t like this part of the piping design.” Since his drowning death experience, Tariq tended to see and interpret things with a changed clarity. “Why would a ship’s plumbing have a cross connection between the bilge pump outlet and the fire water intake?” The likely reason would be so the operators could get rid of leaked product—under the waterline. There was less chance of the intentional pollution being detected.
“For profit sake,” Tariq spoke sardonically, “why shouldn’t companies be able to freely foul our planet’s oceans at their greedy whims?”
The network intruder backtracked and then burrowed down to a control set that had first sparked his interest. The vessel was currently at a jetty in Houston. The offloading of a cargo of light-sweet Arabian crude was 34% completed. According to the personnel files, most of the seamen were on several days leave, as the ship’s station-keeping program had handed over control to the terminal’s system.
[Doesn’t the Sheik’s horse have some barding too?]
“The protection isn’t nearly as tight. The ship is mostly at sea with no vulnerable landlines and seemingly, they don’t perceive a credible enough threat to spend money on secure data ports for ship computers to tie up to.”
“How much of the world is now so automated?” The hacker marveled at the technology he was messing with. “They can operate their offloading port from a central control room in Houston, and I can do the same thing from here in downtown Seattle.”
“I disable the bilge sensors—done.” The hacker vocalized what his keyboarding fingers were up to. “I lock out power to the bilge pumps—also done.” He could probably trust the duty operators not to notice the fire pumps running non-stop but he didn’t want blame assigned to an innocent. “So I change the code variables to make on show on the console as off.” Post-incident investigation would prove this as a deliberate hack. “I open the fire deluge valves and flush valves to currently empty product storage holds—done and done.”
“The ship is now slowly filling up with water.” He compared the crude oil transfer flow rate with the design specifications of the fire suppression system. “Oops, I take that back. A flood is rapidly gaining on the vessel’s displacement. In less than 8 hours, the Malaquawi will be scuttled.”
[That’s really slick but it’ll be your slick.]
“The environmental response agencies should be able to contain the spill of 28% of the ship’s cargo without much trouble.” With a satisfied sigh, Tariq lifted his hands off the keyboard and cracked his tired knuckles. Raising the sunken boat from the shallow water and refitting it would incur a substantial cost. Damage control on bad PR and loss of product should round out the total expenditure to match the boat Bob Wall lost. “Ghazi, now that is one top quality kick, right square in the knackers.”
[A hoof in the man berries from a beloved boyhood pony.]
“Oddly, I’m almost glad you’ve come back. Now, I won’t feel like I’m drinking alone when I go out for a congratulatory cocktail—or two.”
[That club where the cowgirls dance on the bar spurs me nicely.]
“Don’t you prefer an opera with women in cast-iron brassieres and with horns on their helmets?”
[Are there any of those nearby?]
Maria Alvarez had metal bra: well, it was fabric but strongly reinforced with enough ferrous material to ensure she couldn’t go through an airport security detector without an additional check with the wand. Her height was 5’ 0” and a measurement of either her bust or hips was 50 inches. Maria understood no English whatsoever but that linguistic handicap was her primary qualification for her current employment.
“~I don’t suppose you can let me sneak out the same door you came in through.” Lyra asked in Russian, as she didn’t dare letting her English fluency become known. The woman came once per day to clean and tick off a checklist of items needing restock.
“~If I talk to you,” Maria whispered in Spanish, “~I’ll be fired.”
“~I don’t want you to loose your job.” The captive girl translated from the muted tone of voice. Spanish was one tongue Lyra didn’t have. She pantomimed. “~Did you bring books or magazines?”
“~I’ll put them in a bedroom drawer while I clean there.” Maria smiled and patted her chambermaid’s cart. She had taken a small selection from the several office reception areas that she also cleaned. They were mostly computer technical stuff but were better than nothing.
“~This kind of self-centeredness is one reason why I won’t acquiesce to unforced sex with the Wall Soft Chief Egotist Officer.” Bob hadn’t made good on his self-promise of providing mental diversions.
“~What’s your man like?” Lyra spoke only to have someone hear her voice. “~My last boyfriend was murdered but I didn’t love him.”
Maria’s eyes bespoke an understanding that the young woman needed to talk but she didn’t break the rules again. The girl made Maria’s cleaning tasks easy by doing most of the work, just to have something to do.
“~For myself, I’m strongly attracted to older men and one in particular. It’s a peculiarity for me, as is my immunity to heroin. I don’t know why.” The penned girl was reminded of her giving a flower to a jilted whore in Bangkok, as Lyra was seeking and receiving the same comforting human contact. “~Do you suppose that’s a female version of Oedipus complex? That ancient Greek fell in love with his own mother but I don’t really think of elder men as my father—it’s more like my mind wants them to teach me something and my body responds accordingly.”
The housekeeper had no idea what the Russian girl was talking about. Maria just went about her regular duties with Lyra trailing and speaking her gibberish. The girl also helped by holding the sheets on the bed’s other side and wherever else she could lend a hand.
“~I know people in society frown on sex relationships of mixed ages,” Lyra chuckled as she suspected the older woman would be one such of the disapproving, “~but the simple fact that my body feels stimulation, tells me Mother Nature is approving. I’ve even heard it said that an old stallion and a young mare produce the finest colts.”
‘Would you like some land?’ While the asshole droned on about the business, the CEO’s mind wandered in his memory. A grammar school classmate had asked that question to initiate the long-past incident.
‘Sure.’ The naive nerdy youngster would take anything free.
‘I’ll give you a couple of acres then.’ The bully had brought his knee up hard in between young Bob’s legs. His balls had ached for days after the nasty experience, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as this.
“It resists our every nut-cracker.”
“Nutcracker?” The chief executive officer cringed at the word and his mind was ripped out of reverie by a stab of pain in his present day testicles.
“Whatever it takes to solve the enigmatic program.” Collin rephrased the concept that had shattered his boss’s daydream.
“There’s no further progress on it?”
“No and I’m sure you knew that when you touted the invincible security of Handshake Lite in your Computer Expo speech.”
“We haven’t broken into the code,” Bob defended, “so why shouldn’t I use that fact as part of our sales pitch?”
“A untrue statement will imperil you worse,” Hersker initially thought to confine his retort to the audience of his own mind but wanted to test the envelope of his new job, “if the software is a virus concealed in a Trojan.”
“It could endanger us,” the CEO stressed, “but pools with riskier rocks hold the larger fish and we’re committed to the program already anyways.”
“My preferred angle is analyzing water samples and using a top-quality fish finder over heeding old angler’s tales.” While speaking, the second-in-command noted he was looking slightly upward at his employer’s eyes. Had Wall drank an Alice in the Looking Glass growth tonic? Collin saw a fluffy pillow the man had between his butt and the leather chair bottom.
“Was there anything else of interest while I’ve been indisposed?” The CEO had spent much time in bed with bagged ice on his privates.
“Did you catch the news out of Texas concerning the oil spill?”
“It was an event blown out of proportion.” Wall shifted in his seat and took a sharp breath. His package was similarly inflated beyond the ratio, and brutally sore. “Only a few fish belly-upped as the area was industrial. Protesters probably bought motor oil to coat a couple of display seabirds.”
“Isn’t it an odd coincidence that another top corporation’s ship had a Poseidon Adventure within days of your yacht’s Titanic occurrence?” Collin was well aware what Bob and everyone else called him: if Wall was suffering from hemorrhoids then both assholes could be a pain in the butt.
“Do you believe there could be a connection?”
“We haven’t discussed plausible motives for a sabotage on your boat.”
“Maybe the drug runners wanted me away from their territory.”
“They chose stupid phrasing for their request.” Collin was surprised the boss hadn’t given this much thought. “It cost their infrastructure and why retaliate against bin Omani Corporation instead of you?”
“I have enough problems without rehashing my lost ship.” Bob’s face contorted in wrath blended with suffering. Clenching his anal sphincter in response to emotional anger had fresh pain shooting into his scrotum.
“I’ll keep searching for linkages.” Hersker took the hurting expression as a cue to depart before the boss decided to try sharing the rectal trauma.
“Dare I visit my concubine again?” Bob wondered as his office door swung shut behind his subaltern. “Is boom-boom even possible with my male glands swollen to the size of Idaho potatoes?”
“She could be gentle,” the magnate rose gingerly and dead bolted his office door, “and maybe kiss them better.” He moved in a bow-legged gait to the mistress suite. “If we can’t screw, I can still derive pleasure from an intimate exploration of her fabulous hooters and fur-burger.”
“~You’ve come back for more abuse?” Lyra looked up as her jailor entered the living room.
“I want to make love with you.” Wall drank her form into his eyes. With her legs curled under her ass, she seemed an enticing siren on a rock.
“~Make love—as in crafting an enduring fondness?” I certainly bang-on nailed his nads: he’s shuffling like a saddle-sore buckaroo.
“You should be getting as desperate for sex as I am.” The man took a cautious seat on the couch beside her.
“~Yes, I miss having sexual intercourse but I really yearn for the other definition of that word—which is conversation and human interaction. If you had a desire to win my affections you wouldn’t have left me alone for the days you’ve spent nursing your wounded pride and bruised package.”
“I wish I could understand what you are saying.” Bob reached his hand to gently stroke her thigh: he would rather have her peel off those skintight jeans so he could grope her bare flesh. “I should get a translator for us.”
“~I hope the interpreter is a hot guy I can romp in the sack with.” Her comment came with mental imagery: it was of the older man she saved.
“Do a strip tease for me.” The geek’s hand had progressed up her leg to where he could tickle his finger on her camel-toe.
“~Best be careful.” Lyra disguised a warning with a girly giggle. “~If you turn-me-on, I’ll squeeze your manly parcel like I really want it.”
“Take your blouse off,” he determinedly tugged at her shirt and fumbled at the bottom button, “so I can see your boobs.”
“~You asked for it!” The young woman’s tone was lusty husky and comprised of more breath than voice. She straddled over his thighs. Her one hand slid into his crotch and her face nuzzled the nape of his neck.
“Tenderly please!” Bob’s voice was in a soprano range. He was in a vulnerable position. “Just now, I can’t handle a ravenous female animal.”
“~That’s what you bought though.” Lyra gripped solidly on area of Bob’s manhood. She put her tongue into his ear to conceal her true intent of inflicting the maximum pain. Her silky voice dripped with honey sweet venom. “~People are not pedigree pets. Even a fluffy poodle was bred as a hunter and can suddenly revert to savagely maim its owner.”
“Arrrgh!” Agony compounded on supreme anguish! Spurred by hurt and instinctive reaction to escape further damage, Bob bucked in his seat.
“~Climax for me you stud!” She matched his frenetic lurching. Each extra motion just lends added power to my clench.
“STOP!” The CEO’s screech was a prepubescent girlish shriek issuing as a dichotomy from an adult male Adam’s apple.
“~Be a man and take me now!” Lyra bounced and humped her pelvis into the back of her clutching hand. Words and voice have failed my wild stallion. His eyes bulged and tears steamed down his wide-mouthed face.
I can’t endure this! His overloaded nervous system agreed and the slave master lost consciousness under his chattel’s passionate onslaught.
“~There’s no point in disciplining you if you’re not awake enough to appreciate the sensations.” Lyra halted her vicious assault and removed herself from his lap. “~Will this teach you something about human nature? You can’t love a possession or expect reciprocation from an owned object. A husband or wife becomes a thing—when the adjective ‘my’ is affixed.” She had wasted the tutorial because even if he were awake, his juvenile maturity level wouldn’t stretch to the principles of advanced Tantra.
“I’ll see a head rolling in a blood gutter.” The man in traditional Arab garb looked up from the financial impact statement he had been perusing.
“Nobody is culpable for it but the anonymous perpetrator.” The unit manager subconsciously stepped back—from fear that his head was on a chopping block—or whatever a Saudi abattoir used.
“Track him down for me.” A controlled British accent belied the fury in Ghazi’s grimace. “I don’t care what that costs.”
“The hacker came in from a computer located in Arizona but that one was probably just the last step of a convoluted chain.”
“Get some experts backtracking until we find the original source.” Sheik Ghazi bin Omani stared at his employee and closed the distance between. He spoke again when so threateningly near that the whisker tips of his full beard brushed the subordinate’s chin. “Someone committed an aggressive act against me and I never allow those to go unanswered.”
“We recently upgraded that system with Wall Soft’s latest.” The mid-level executive tried to retain his composure. They claim the interface is utterly secure but the vandal might have come through it.”
“That software hasn’t been out for long enough for an outsider to know it well enough to subvert it.” Ghazi continued to speak but from this point he wasn’t talking to the underling but for his own benefit. “That points to Wall’s organization: what could he hope to gain by making me an enemy?”
“Could it be a disgruntled employee?”
“If so, then Bob is rich enough to pay my damages for his fault.”
“We’ll investigate into that aspect as well.” The Omani employee was pleased that his skull remained connected to his spinal column.
“I’ll minutely examine that corporation too.” Ghazi left the shaken man’s office. “Bob Wall is atop the purely financial hierarchy but he is rumored to be attempting to climb the power player’s pyramid. Besting me would be a big vault in that direction.” Sheik bin Omani muttered. “Nobody will step over me without my dagger thrust up into his entrails.”
“Welcome to our dungeon.” It was almost midnight in Ukraine as a hostess met an older gentleman at the door. “We close at twelve.”
“I’ll pay extra to extend your hours tonight.”
“Are you new to Kiev? Or are you a novice?”
“No to both.” The Anaconda had seen this business previously but his brand of sadomasochism outstripped the bland-as-blanched-rice offering of a commercial venture. Tonight, he had an extra-special need: Sergey had returned from the U.S. without the girl.
“There are two ladies working tonight.” This gothic young female had heavy eye makeup and dyed black hair. She signaled for the other girl, a bleached blonde. “Which is your preference?”
“I’ll do you both.” Anaconda extracted a thick wad of currency. He had no expensive tastes and his duties supplied all his other needs.
“The dungeon has rules.” The dark haired girl explained as she showed a torture chamber mock-up, circa the Spanish Inquisition. “Since you’re experienced, you’ll know how to whip and not cause harm. The stop word will be ‘Achilles’. That means you are hurting too much.”
“That’s appropriate.” Anaconda thought of the original Greek hero that was impervious to wounds in any place but his heel. These two females in this sex trade establishment had vulnerability as well. The sadist currently in their shop wasn’t the playacting type: a stop indication was a green light.
“How would you like to start?” The gothic young woman asked.
“You can begin by trying to hurt me, and then it will my turn.”
“Say ‘Achilles’ when you want us to untie your bonds.”
“I’ll break out when I’m ready.” The Anaconda recalled his shredding the pantyhose after his amputation. He would reenact that awakening.
In the sadomasochist dungeon the screams were interspersed with impassioned but fruitless calls to a hero from the Trojan War but Achilles and mercy were both unavailable. The two female bodies were still bound at 4 AM when the Anaconda disposed of them in the Dnepr River.