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.

July 19, 2009

Measuring Up: No V In Team

I slept about half the flight and I spent the other half watching Mr. Barker. Seeing him with Tom it was easy to see they had been friends for a long time, probably before either of them came to work for Joseph Candle. It was just an assumption, but my mind started to put the pieces together with the two of them probably serving in the military together, only I would bet Tom was the one in charge back in those days. It’s not that I think Tom would make a better leader, I don’t, it is just that Mr. Barker doesn’t quite seem comfortable with his role around Tom.

With Dr. Michaels it was different. He was mostly ambivalent toward the man and Dr. Michaels was equally so toward Mr. Barker. There was a comfortable roughness to their relationship, as if they had decided they weren’t ever going to be friends but they could still be colleagues anyway. I wished I could get to that same place with Dr. Michaels but for the moment our relationship is based on him annoying me while I pretend not to be annoyed.

Kyra slept the whole flight from take off to landing. I was insanely jealous. Mr. Barker never even gave a glance to her during the flight. On the other hand, Dr. Michaels and Tom both stared at her sleeping form occasionally. I guess they both have a little bit of a thing for her which isn’t hard to see why. She is cute and when she’s sleeping, you don’t have to listen to her smartass comments.

Debarking in Pisa, I was stupidly surprised that it was morning outside. It felt like it should be night, but that’s what happens when you fly half way around the world. We were greeted by a small military escort of sorts. By the looks of them I guessed Air Force or the Italian equivalent. Mr. Barker spent a few minutes speaking with them alone and showing them our passports and some other papers which I gathered had something to do with the purpose of our visit. A few minutes later they left us alone.

“Cars will be here in a couple minutes.” Mr. Barker said, walking over to me.

I nodded not sure what that meant other than we’d be leaving after the cars arrived. Everyone gathered near me for some unknown reason.

“Don’t get too used to the local time zone. With a little luck we won’t be here more than a couple days.” Mr. Barker said.

“We can’t check-in until noon.” Kyra said.

Mr. Barker nodded looking at his watch.

“Unless you are planning on wasting the morning, I’ll need some place to setup until then.” Kyra said.

“I’m sure the hotel will allow you to use their conference room until the rooms are ready.” Dr. Michaels said.

“I wouldn’t assume it.” Kyra said.

“Just mention my name at the front and they’ll set you up.” Dr. Michaels said.

We all turned to watch two cars pull up. They were both a dull silver in color, but that was where the similarities ended. One was much smaller than the other and looked like a cross between an SUV and a hatchback while the other looked like a luxury sedan. Mr. Barker took the keys and signed some paperwork from the drivers and then tossed one set of keys to me. I barely caught them and nearly dropped them after I did.

“I think we should be about set now.” Mr. Barker said. “Miss West, you and Kyra head over to the hotel and get her set up. Get our stuff into our rooms once they’re available. Tom, Gene, you’re with me.”

I’m not really sure what I expected, but being sent off to the hotel with Kyra while the guys went off on their own was certainly not it. To add insult to injury, the three men piled into the sedan, leaving Kyra and I with the miniature half-breed for transportation. Given half a chance I might have complained or at the very least given the guys a dirty look, but they were off and running before Mr. Barker’s instructions had really sank in. I decided to shrug it off, especially since Kyra didn’t seem to think anything of it.

It took the two of us about a half hour to load all the gear into the little fiat. From there it was another hour before we successfully found our hotel. Kyra kept sending me down one way streets that didn’t allow us to turn off where we needed to go. She blamed it on the navigation system, I blamed it on her, silently of course. The one thing I really don’t like about tech people is they seem incapable of thinking without their tech.

The hotel reception was nicely elegant. I was impressed by the usage of marble on the walls, floors, and counters. Not that everything marble looks nice, it doesn’t, but the reception was done with an eye for coordination, using contrasting marble colorings that would never be found together in nature but seeing them together you couldn’t help but think they should have been. The echo of our heels on the floor made it seem larger than it in fact was, but the décor enhanced the effect as well, making it seem like a giant lobby in a five star hotel rather than the common quality it truly was.

We were just beginning to get Kyra’s computer equipment set up in the conference room when Mr. Barker called to check in with us.

“Is Kyra set up yet?” He asked.

“We’re working on that now.” I replied.

“What the hell’s taking so long?”

“Well we might have managed it a little faster if we’d had some help loading up the car.” I replied.

The annoyance I felt definitely crept into my tone, but right then I didn’t really care.

“Fine. How long until she’s set?” He asked.

I covered the microphone and turned to Kyra. She was busy sticking wires in God only knows what places.

“Mr. Barker wants to know how long before you are up.” I said.

She glanced at me and then returned her attention to the wires.

“An hour if everything goes smooth.” She said.

I took my hand away from the phone.

“She says an hour still.” I told him.

“Fine. Have her contact me as soon as she’s ready.” He said.


The call ended as abruptly as it had begun.

I gave up trying to help Kyra. Every time I tried, she either scowled at me or in no uncertain terms told me to keep my hands to myself. So, I went for a walk and left her to her work. It seemed an awful lot of effort for a temporary setup, but I guess I still have a bit to learn about the work I’m involved in. Of course, if my job was to check us into hotels and chauffer Kyra around, that administrative assistant job might not be as far off from the truth as I first thought.

The hotel was built around a central courtyard. I made my way out into it and found a table near the fountain to sit and relax. The sound of the falling water was a near perfect accompaniment to the quiet chirping of birds in the nearby shrubbery. Flowers were in bloom all around me and the air was aromatized with the faint scent of lavender.

A very nice young woman came up to me with a smile on her face and a flower in her hair. At first I wondered if I’d wandered someplace I shouldn’t be but her relaxed demeanor put my mind at ease. I glanced at her and reminded myself to smile.

“English?” She asked.

“Yes, please.” I said.

“Would you like anything?” She asked.

It took me a moment but then I figured out I was sitting in the equivalent of an outdoor café.

“Coffee if you have it.” I said.

From personal experience, it usually rude to sit in such a place and not order anything. She nodded and left me alone with my thoughts. They kept drifting back to self-satisfied expressions Dr. Michaels had been sporting since we boarded the plane in LA. I had agreed to go along with Mr. Candle’s charade in the hopes it would help normalize my relations with Dr. Michaels, but instead it seemed to have had a near opposite effect. By his attitude, he clearly now felt comfortably superior to me and didn’t mind rubbing my face in the evidence of it.

Combine that with Kyra, Tom and Mr. Barker thinking I had been disciplined for my own attitude was also far from helping me become an accepted member of the team. In my view, it had isolated me further and made them take a very negative view of me. Perhaps, I am jaded or maybe my own embarrassment at the situation are fueling the hard feelings dominating my thoughts, but then again I was sitting alone in a courtyard while the rest of them were working.

The young woman returned briefly and laid a small white cup of coffee on the table. It was steaming hot, but I’ve had shots of whiskey with more liquid in them. I picked up the tiny cup, carefully holding it between my forefinger and thumb. I tossed it back in a single swallow and nearly choked on the bitter taste. It might have been no more than a swallow but it tasted like the whole pot.

I was still trying to pop my eyes back in their sockets when my phone rang. Coughing and trying to suppress it, I glanced to see who it was and then answered it.

“Yeah.” I said.

There was a brief pause on the other end followed by some shuffling around.

“Miss West?” Mr. Barker asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

“Are you alright?”


“You didn’t quite sound yourself.”

“You caught me swallowing some coffee or at least the local version of it.” I said.

“I see. Is Kyra setup yet?”

“She was still working on it last I checked.”

“Aren’t you helping her?”

“She didn’t want my help.”


“I’m not very computer savvy.” I explained.

“I didn’t realize.”

“You didn’t ask.”

“I’m going to send you a set of files to your phone.” Mr. Barker said.


“As soon as Kyra has her station set up, she needs to run a comparative analysis between these scans and the corresponding files in Gene’s database. We’re looking for any anomalies.”

“Ok.” I said.

“Did you get all that?” Mr. Barker asked.

I could have taken offense.

“Yes, analyze for discrepancies between the scans and our data files on the same data.” I said.

“Right and then call me back with what you find.”

“Right. Where are these scans from?”

“We’re at the local museum and they have a few of Galileo’s original journals on display. Gene was able to get copies of their digital scans.”

“I see. So the data will need to be translated also.” I said.

“Of course, Kyra will know how to do all that.” Mr. Barker said.

“Silly me.” I replied.

“I realize you are new Miss West and you’ve already had to learn at least one lesson the hard way, but don’t think I won’t teach you a few others the same way if you don’t drop the attitude.” Mr. Barker scolded.

I bit my tongue and accepted the annoying fact that Mr. Barker was not only being fair, but truthful. None of it changed the fact I felt like I was being left out but maybe it really was just my imagination. After all, someone had to help Kyra with all her stuff and Mr. Barker couldn’t really have gone hunting for the compass without Dr. Michaels. I suppose Tom and I could have traded places easily enough, but if there was going to be any trouble it probably wasn’t going to be at the hotel and so it made more sense for Tom to be right where he was.

“Sorry, Mr. Barker. I’m just feeling a little useless here and I’m not really sure what I should be doing to help.” I said.

It was direct, honest, and dangerous, but I was betting Mr. Barker would respond better to that than anything else I could say.

“You’ve got a job now, so get on it and I’ll see if I can’t find a few other chores to keep you out of trouble in the meantime.” Mr. Barker said.

He ended the call before I could respond. I sat there staring at the phone for at least 30 seconds before putting it back in my purse and heading back to Kyra. She probably wouldn’t need my help with the data comparison, but I had a nagging feeling if I left her alone again, I’d be regretting it before bedtime.


  1. Ashley,

    Another great post/story. if this was in book form I do not think I could put it down. great job, can not wait for more.

  2. Ashley, you are keeping the pace going nicely.
    I have some ideas where this is going, but I'll keep them to myself for the moment, I really don't like looking foolish.
    Warm hugs,

  3. It's her first mission, so of course she is feeling out of place and less than useful. No doubt at this point the others see her as someone to be babysat rather than a contributing team member. It will be interesting to see what she does to prove her worth.

  4. Definitely a little pot stirring going on here. It should be interesting to see how all this unfolds.

  5. I like V going the honest route.