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.

November 1, 2009

Casting Shadows: Serendipitous Connections

"It seems the mission was hardly the cake walk Mr. Barker described," Mr. Candle said, with his back to me. "However, you handled the situation quite well regardless."

I walked across the floor spanning the gap between his desk and the elevator. His compliment, whether he meant it backhanded or not, was no longer the sort of thing I needed or wanted from him. My thoughts had me there in his office, standing before his cluttered desk, long before I arrived on the scene. The entire trip back from the Arctic had given me the time I needed to prepare.

"Were you hoping Jack would put a barrier between me and the truth?" I asked.

Mr. Candle sighed before he turned to face me. His eyes were red with strain, telling me he had spent as many hours awake as I had, if not more. Sympathy threatened to tug at my heart, but I pushed it aside. There was more at stake than the man's daughter and if my suspicions were correct, sympathy was not something he would ever get from me again.

"While you are quite resourceful, your experience remains limited. My desire for Mr. Barker to accompany you is rooted in your safety. Nothing sinister or secretive, I assure you," Mr. Candle said.

"So you're denying you're responsible?" I asked.

"Responsible? For what?" He asked.

"Don't play coy with me," I said. "You know damn well what the Healy was up there doing and don't pretend for a second you didn't"

"Are you accusing me of having something to do with the acceleration of climate change?" He asked, sounding genuinely hurt.

"Should we still call it climate change when it's simple manipulation?" I replied.

"There is nothing simple about what is being done," Mr. Candle said.

"Do you have any idea the repercussions that will follow in the Arctic for what you've done?" I said. "And for what? To find an unusual Viking ship? How did you even know it was there in the first place?"

"Miss West," He said, fists clenching at his sides. "I am not responsible for every bad thing that happens in this world."

"If not you then who?" I said. "Everything points right back at you. Who else even cares about these artifacts? I mean honestly, I can tell Kemp and Olivia are working for someone else and right now the only person that makes any sense at all is you? Why, I can't figure, but who else in all the world has the motivation to go after these pieces?"

"If you were not a member of Q5 you would have no knowledge of my motivation and yet it would still exist," Mr. Candle said. "The same is true for whomever we are competing against. Not knowing who they are or why they persist does not change that fact that they do."

"It all sounds great, except you never directly answered me," I said. "Are you responsible for the melting of the ice shelf?"

"Not in the way you think," He replied.

"What does that mean? Either you did it or you didn't," I said.

"You will find the world is never as simple as you want it to be," He said.

I shook my head, annoyed he would stonewall me with an adage meant for the naive.

"You sound like my father, stating the obvious as if it's an answer," I said.

"Would my denial of your accusations satisfy you or is it something else you are looking for?" Mr. Candle asked.

"I just want to know the whole story. I know there is a lot more going on here than a treasure hunt and I want the pieces to start making sense," I said.

"I sympathize with your desire, but what little more I know would only deepen your questions, not resolve them. All I can do is ask for your trust and offer you my assurance that while I am dedicated to my quest, there remain lines I will not cross at any cost," Mr. Candle said.

"If I ever learn you've lied to me--"

"You won't," He said.

I nodded and said, "I hope not. For your sake."

Kyra and Dr. Michaels were seated together at the conference table when I arrived in Q5. The broken glass had all been replaced and the mess left behind by Olivia and her team was long since swept away, but there was still a sense of the violation in the air as I joined my colleagues. They were working on identifying the island marked by the map, Dr. Michaels through analysis of the drakkar data and Kyra with computer models built to re-map the globe based on water levels pre-Little Ice Age.

"How goes the search?" I asked, sitting down across the table from them.

"I've conferred with colleagues at the University of Oslo and they confirm the wood used in our drakkar's construction is anomalous in respect to other recovered vessels. A conclusive origin is still many weeks away, but South America is the favorite based on a range of observations." Dr. Michaels said. "Additionally, the runes I've been translating indicate this was a trading vessel."

"What about the map?" I asked.

"It seems they received it in trade and intended to start a colony on the island, but were unable to locate it. The captain felt they had been betrayed and intended to kill the trader on their next visit," Dr. Michaels said. "Their search for it might go a long way to explaining how the drakkar ended up where it did."

"Are we thinking this island doesn't exist at all then?" I asked.

It seemed unlikely with two maps of it being found, but then even modern hoaxes are often propagated by distributing a large number of copies affirming the hoax as reality. The map could possibly be the first hoax in the history of world and if so did that make us the most gullible seekers in the history of the world? No doubt, Fu Xi would be laughing his butt off if he could see us galavanting around the world after his practically prehistoric joke.

"The possibility exists of course, but maps were very rare in this period and the existence of one suggests the location was difficult to find even to those who had been there," Dr. Michaels said.

"Okay, so we're talking a hard to find location which means probably small and maybe not too close to a continent," I said.

"Exactly, which is what helped me narrow the search down for the computer," Kyra said.

"You found something?" I asked.

"I'm still searching because it's not exact, but I think it might be Rapa Nui," She said.

"Easter Island? Wait, wasn't that first settled around the time period our drakkar is from?" I said.

"I'm impressed, Miss West," Dr. Michaels said. "You are quite correct. All indications are that the island was first settled within 50 years of the time the drakkar became trapped in the Arctic ice."

"So then this might be more proof supporting the theory that the island was originally settled by tribes in South America?" I asked.

"If our initial investigation is upheld, yes," Dr. Michaels replied.

"How far off is the match?" I asked, turning to Kyra.

"Two percent." She said.

"Did you account for Volcanic activity?" I asked.

"Not initially but I factored it in after the match was made," Kyra said.

"Given the less precise map making tools of the time, unrecorded volcanic activity and unstable water level, a two percent variance seems almost too good," I said.

"I agree," Dr. Michaels said. "What we seem to have is a modern map, adjusted for the time period, in the hands of people incapable of creating it."

"Sort of like the crystal," I said.

"Yes," He said.

"Tell me your as in the dark here as I am," I said.

"Utterly," Dr. Michaels said. "However, the possible answers seem limited."

"I, for one, think we are chasing down a series of fakes," Kyra said.

"They are the most authentic fakes I've ever seen then," Dr. Michaels said.

I leaned back not wanting to put voice to my own thoughts. It was clear to me, neither of them would receive the information well in any regard and Kyra would just assume I was crazy. Dr. Michaels might as well but after our recent experiences I have decided not to underestimate the man. The only answer that seemed to fit, made no sense unless you threw reality out the window and neither of them were yet prepared to do that of course they weren't seeing a girl who wasn't there either.

My phone rang and I pulled it out of my purse to discover Jack was calling. I quickly relocated myself to my office before answering the call.

"Jack," I said.

"I thought I was going to get your voicemail," He said, a little laughter in his voice.

"I just had to relocate myself," I said. "Any chance Olivia turned up rotting in a prison cell somewhere?"

"I'm afraid not. So far all we've managed to do is run down a bunch of dead ends. I hear you got the Viking boat out of the ice okay," Jack said.

"I didn't have much to do with it, other than being there," I said.

"Not what I hear," Jack said. "Anyway, I thought I'd check in make sure everything is good there."

"We're fine, searching for answers and hitting stone walls but that's the job, right?" I said.

"Seems like it some days. Tom pulled a last lead from some old friends and we're going to check that before coming back in. If it's nothing we should be back in two days. If we find something, well then I'll be in touch," He said.

"Sure, you just want a few more hours out in the sun, Bahamas? Cancun? Tahiti?" I said.

"I wish. We're off to Chile actually, boring as that sounds," Jack said.

The fragile connection between the drakkar's map and Easter Island suddenly grew stronger.

"Did you say Chile?" I asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"Remember the map we found engraved inside the crystal?" I asked.

"Yes," Jack said.

"Well we found an identical one carved into the Viking ship's mast," I said.

"Curious, but how does that tie to Chile?" Jack asked.

"The map is a 98% match for Easter Island and that boat we pulled out of the ice," I said. "The wood used to construct it is most likely South American in origin."

"You think she's treasure hunting? Something connecting the crystal to the boat?" Jack said.

"I think it's a solid lead," I said. "I think we better meet you and Tom in Chile."

"Alright. Have Kyra call me and we'll sync up our travel plans," Jack said.

I ended the call and stuffed the phone back in my purse while wondering just what it was Olivia could be after. Leaning back in my chair, I took a quiet moment to relax, knowing it would be awhile before the opportunity arose again. With a new blast of energy I sprang forward from my chair and walked out into the main room again.

"Pack your bags," I said. "We're leaving for Chile. Kyra call Jack and coordinate our travel plans with him. Dr. Michaels, we'll need all the data you can find on connections between Chile and Rapa Nui, dating back as far as you can find and make sure you flag anything about Vikings in the region."

I didn't wait for confirmations from them but kept on walking straight out of the office and into the elevator. If we were going to take another trip, having barely returned from our last, there was one thing I had to do first.


  1. Ash,

    excellent to see Virginia is taking charge.Looking forward to the next story

  2. Ashley. seems this is just the job for V, she has no chance of becoming bored.
    You are doing very well, impressive.
    Warm hugs,

  3. That visit to get the drakkar was quicker than expected. Maybe she's going to say goodbye to Mark before heading out this time?