New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

May 13, 2009

Great Expectations: Persuasion

We walked together toward the elevator and even before we got to the doors they opened to an empty car. Mr. Candle pushed the button for the 2nd floor and the doors slid closed. It was only then I realized what was so different about the elevator compared to all the others I’ve ever been inside; there was no music.

The 2nd floor was a bustle of activity through open cubicles grouped in bundles. There were narrow passages through the middle of the room between the bundles and larger walkways around the perimeter. The employees were either typing on their keyboards in what looked like email correspondence or reading physical letters. Mr. Candle and I walked the perimeter while he explained what they were doing.

“We receive literally thousands of correspondence from all around the world on a daily basis. Most of it is negative, people who have had a bad experience with one of our products. In this room and in a few others around the world just like it, we do our best to personally respond to each complaint in some manner.” Mr. Candle said.

He gestured to a plastic box overflowing with letters at the desk we were passing. The woman processing them seemed oblivious to our presence as did everyone else. Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me, but something about it seemed very odd to me.

“We commonly use form letters with offers for free replacement of defective merchandise but some complaints require a more personal touch.” Mr. Candle continued, “People who have had a bad experience are unlikely to change their minds over free products or form letters though, so the most important part of the job down here is to identify defects in product designs which need correcting because of an unacceptable failure rate. The best way to keep people from getting upset is to avoid having the problems that upset them. Wouldn’t you agree?”

I nodded my head in agreement, still looking around the room. We made a complete circuit of the room without disturbing anyone. It was both impressive and frightening at the same time.

“So you do your best to appear to care about your customers.” I said.

“Not appear, Miss Beaumont. I do care. Our customers opinions are very important to me.” Mr. Candle replied.

“And why is that Mr. Candle?” I asked.

“Perception is reality.” He replied.

“I’m not convinced.” I said.

“If you were, I would be disappointed. Shall we continue?” He said.

I smiled despite myself and allowed him to guide me back into the elevator. He pressed the button for the 24th floor. While the elevator rose in the shaft he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. There was definitely a youthful excitement about the man.

When the elevator doors opened I wanted them to slam shut again. It probably had something to do with the rifle barrels pointed at us. The camouflaged muscles holding them were fairly intimidating as well, but the muzzles were foremost on my mind. Mr. Candle’s eyes were laughing at me and somewhere deep down the goons with the guns probably were too.

Mr. Candle held his hand out to a panel with the outline of a hand on it and a blue light flashed under his hand and then a green light bulb lit up on top. The goons focused the guns on me alone then. All I can say is it was a good thing I hadn’t had anything to drink earlier.

“It’s a digital fingerprint analyzer. The guards are here to make sure no one gets off the elevator who doesn’t have authorization.” Mr. Candle explained.

“I guess I’ll just go back down to the lobby then.” I said.

I didn’t mean it as a complaint. Leaving the goons and guns behind was definitely on the top of my to do list.

“Don’t be silly. Place your right hand on the analyzer.” He said.

“I don’t understand. Obviously, I don’t have clearance to be here.” I said.

“Nonsense. After your interview last week I took the liberty of obtaining your provisional security clearance. You are cleared to enter any part of the building as long as I’m with you.” Mr. Candle explained.

I placed my hand on the analyzer and the blue light flashed again. I held my breath wondering if I would ever take another should the light turn red instead of green. The bulb flashed green and the goons and guns retreated. I waited an extra second before releasing my breath just in case the damn machine changed its mind. Mr. Candle was enjoying himself quite thoroughly and so far it was all at my expense.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“The 24th floor.” Mr. Candle replied.


“You asked.”

I nodded my head and sighed. Mr. Candle led me to a white door with a coded lock. He swiped a card from his pocket and the door buzzed open. He waived me inside and so I went.

“This is a testing facility. In here we are currently running tests on long range non-lethal assault weapons.” Mr. Candle said.

It was clearly a laboratory with scientist making adjustments on various prototypes resembling various assault weapons of the more lethal variety we are all far too familiar with. At the far end of the lab I recognized an area that could only be a shooting range. Mr. Candle guided me toward it.

“Non-lethal? How so?” I asked.

“There are a variety of concepts all in the early stages of development right now and several are showing promising results. In a few years we might well have a functional assault weapon capable of incapacitating an enemy combatant without any lasting injury.”

“The military is interested in this kind of technology?” I asked.

“Very. Do you have any idea how much easier it is to stop radicals when they have no martyrs?”

“I see.”

“I don’t really think we need another company working on figuring out new ways to kill people. It’s time for a weapon with a more civilized purpose, don’t you think?”

“It sounds admirable.”

“But you don’t think it is?”

“I think you are showing me what you need me to see and keeping from me anything that might cause me to run out the front door.” I said.

“Do you really think I would go to this much trouble just to deceive you?” Mr. Candle asked.

I looked around the room. It was true, nothing was fake, it was all for real. The concept was incredible but then that is exactly what Quondam Innovations is known for, bringing you tomorrow today. Maybe I don’t know everything and just maybe this was an offer of a lifetime. I realized right then that Mr. Candle had achieved what he wanted. I could still turn him down and walk away from everything, but if I did I would spend the rest of my life asking myself what if and I’m too damn young to have regrets.

“Alright, Mr. Candle, you’ve sold me. Now maybe we should talk about exactly what it is you want me to do for you.” I said.

Mr. Candle nodded at me, clearly pleased with himself. We returned to the elevator leaving the lab coats to their lab and the goons to their guns. I can’t say it was too soon, but I could have asked a million questions about what I saw there. I decided for the time being to put it out of my mind and focus on the immediate future. I never thought I would be working for Quondam Innovations let alone be hired by its world famous CEO himself.

A few moments later we were standing outside the elevator on the 32nd floor. There were two doors, one to the left and one to the right. The one to the left was a plain white door, unmarked but the keypad to the side indicated it was most likely locked. The door to the right was similar except it was painted blue and marked with the designation, “Q5” in raised silver letters.

“Q5?” I asked.

“This is where you will be working when you’re in the office. I wanted to show you this before we make it all official.”

He stepped up to the blue door and punched a code into the keypad and then pressed his thumb to a small white square that lit up briefly. There was a mechanical sound like gears turning and then the distinctive sound of the a door unlocking. He pushed the door open and held it for me.

We walked into a large room that looked something like a cross between a Pentagon war room and a science lab. In the very center of the room there was an oval table with a cherry wood finish. In mid-air above the table there was a grayish white light which on closer inspection appeared to be data from nearby computer terminals but it was somehow being projected like a hologram. I stepped up and waved my hand through it and to my surprise there was no disruption at all. Mr. Candle chuckled at me.

I turned and slowly looked around the room trying to take it all in. The perimeter of the room was on a higher level than the center of the room giving it a pit feeling. It was only six steps to get to the raised walkway and it could be accessed from either side of the main area. On the left side there were three equally sized offices and on the right side there were two larger offices. At the far side of the room from the entrance, there was another office that looked more like a high school science lab except the equipment in there was clearly far more advanced than anything a high school teacher would ever see.

“What is all this?” I asked.

“This is why I do everything else I do.” Mr. Candle said.

“A pet project?”

“Something like that. You have an interest in history if I’m not mistaken?”

“A little.”

“This office is dedicated to finding lost artifacts from the past.”

“Artifacts? You want me to be an archeologist?”

“Not exactly. In this office you will work with four other people I’ve hand selected just like you. You see the job isn’t about unearthing ancient remains but rather finding objects of value that have been lost to time. It requires a rather unique set of skills and the team I have put together here has proven to be quite good at finding things no one else has been able to.”

“If the team is already successful, then why do you need me?”

“I made a mistake. You’ll be replacing a member of the team and I believe bringing a necessary skill set to the table.”

“I don’t see what I have to offer.”

“I need someone that understands how people think and that is something you do better than most.”

“I have a degree in psychology not mind reading.”

Mr. Candle chuckled.

“I’m not hiring your degree, Miss Beaumont. I’m hiring you.” He said.

“What happens to the artifacts after we find them?” I asked.

“They’re brought back here for cataloging and study. Once we’ve learned all we can from them we have agreements with museums around the world to loan the objects out for display and further study.”

“I take it you have an archeologist on the team?”

“He doesn’t like that title but he has the knowledge and expertise.”

“I see. Where are they?”

“Out on assignment. They will be back in a few days.”

“I take it there will be a lot of traveling?”

“The job does require a bit of hands on so yes you will be required to travel with the team. I’m sure you won’t mind getting away from your parents for a few days at a time.”

There was a twinkle in his eye which made me very self conscious recalling the inconvenient timing of his call the previous evening. What had he heard? Call me chicken but I wasn’t about to ask.

“I think I’ll survive.” I said.

“Good. Shall we adjourn to my office and go over the details then?”

“Lead the way.”


  1. very good, starts to get very interesting :)

  2. Ashley, an interesting conundrum,
    should keep M/s Beaumont on her toes.