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.

January 28, 2010

Spank & Correct: Strange Like Normal

"Got a minute V?" Tom said, walking into Q5 with a purposeful stride.

Kyra shrugged next to me, clearly still confused, but no longer certain she wanted the answers to the questions floating around her head. I smiled, sympathetic to her plight and left her to match pace with Tom, walking toward his office.

"Something up?" I asked, walking next to him.

"In my office," He said, gesturing for me to enter first and then following me inside, closing the door.

I turned around to face him, leaning on the front edge of his desk. He said, "You were right," and handed me a flash card. "He's definitely dropping information," He said as I slipped the card into the reader on his keyboard and turned his monitor to see the images. It took a moment, but then the black screen faded into high resolution, color images of Patrick Hughes slipping a Quondam flash drive into a false rock in the corporate garden on the way to the parking garage. The location was surprisingly close to where Tom and I had last talked.

"Any sign of who is retrieving the data?" I asked as the images continued play in a slideshow on the computer.

Tom shook his head and said, "Not yet. I've got round the clock surveillance on the location so we'll know when someone picks it up."

I nodded. "Anything else?" I asked.

Tom said, "I found it more than a little hard to believe even with proof in front of me so I did a little more digging into his personal situation. Turns out he's married with two kids, four and six, but when I went to his house it appears he is the only one living there."

"Divorce?" I asked, not wanting to consider the other possibility which entered my head first even thought it seemed infinitely more likely.

"I doubt it," Tom said frowning, "Closets are full, the kids' toys are still in their rooms, but from the looks of the place Patrick has been living there alone for weeks. No, I'd have to say someone is probably using them as leverage over him. Your instincts were good."

My eyes found Tom's and I could see the same rage burning in me was burning in him. It was one thing to manipulate a person directly, but to threaten their family was nothing short of evil. Looking away and back to the computer screen, I said, "What do we do now?"

Tom exhaled frustration. He said, "We wait. When someone comes to retrieve the data we'll have a lead as to where his family might be being held. Until then, anything we do will simply endanger their lives."

I nodded. "Will you keep this between us?" I asked.

Tom regarded me cautiously. "Jack should know about this," He said.

"He will, just as soon as we know what or more specifically who, we are dealing with," I said.

"You don't trust him," Tom said, almost accusingly.

I knew they were old friends and I could not compete with the longstanding trust in their relationship, but even Tom had to realize something was far from right within Q5. "I want to, but things don't add up and until we know who is involved with Patrick, I think it would be best to keep the information contained."

"Jack is not involved," Tom said with forceful conviction.

"Probably not," I said turning to face Tom directly, "But I still can't figure how he got away in the Philippines."

"He's good," Tom said.

I nodded. "So are we and they still got us," I said.

Tom said, "Jack's one of the good guys."

I stood up off the edge of his desk and stepped as close to him as I dared within the office. "I'm not asking you to pick sides," I said quietly, "just keep things quiet until we know for certain."

Tom stood their staring down at me, breathing in and out, for a long moment. I began to feel certain he would not agree with me when he said, "Alright. We'll do it your way, but it's because I trust you, not that I don't trust Jack."

"Thank you," I said and after exchanging nods, I left him alone in his office.

"There you are," Dr. Michaels said from behind me just as I turned the corner heading back into the main area of Q5. I turned around and said, "Were you looking for me?"

Dr. Michaels nodded his head and gestured for me to follow him in the opposite direction of where I had been heading. I changed course and said, "Miss me?"

"I admit I have been eager to hear your thoughts regarding my findings," Dr. Michaels said gesturing for me to enter his small office, "But I would not qualify that eagerness as missing you. In fact, I would say your absence was appropriate and I should hope it did you some good."

"Time will tell," I said slipping passed him into his office.

The desk was a disaster. Papers strewn in every which direction, open books stacked around the room on the floor, chairs, and filing cabinets and prints of the photos taken inside the Easter Island cave were pinned to the walls in some sort of an effort to recreate the circular positioning. I stepped carefully through the mess, my attention caught by one of the photographs on the wall opposite the door which seemed to be focused on a single character in the writing; V.

"You've made some progress?" I asked twisting to look back at Dr. Michaels.

"Limited," He said squeezing his way behind his desk and bringing his monitor back to life. "As you know the language has never been successfully translated because there is only a limited amount of surviving text. I've been using a variation of Kyra's pattern recognition software on the entire collection of texts ever discovered on Easter Island and the results have allowed me to confirm two texts as fraudulent entries. Once I threw them out, I was able to identify a few of the characters and can at least confirm it is definitely a written language."

"That doesn't sound like much progress toward deciphering the text," I said, still staring at the picture before me.

"It's the first steps, but without more to go on, the translation could still take years or possibly never," Dr. Michaels said.

"So what did you want to show me?" I asked turning my back to the photograph and facing him.

"This," Dr Michaels said clicking his mouse and bringing up a slideshow of images. At first, I was lost as the images played across his screen. They were clearly taken from a variety of finds around the world, but after a few images had taken their turn on the screen I began to recognize the pattern. It was precisely the same thing which had drawn me to the photograph on the wall and by the look on Dr. Michaels' face, he had posted it there for exactly that reason.

I said, "What does it mean?"

He shrugged and said, "I don't know. It can't be coincidence, but there is no single meaning for it transcending cultures."

Glancing between him and the screen I could see he had a theory he was afraid to put a voice to for fear it would make him sound as insane as the idea did. "It's a message, isn't it," I said.

He nodded in apparent agreement with my assessment. "But it doesn't make any sense. How could anyone leave you a message spread across the entire world and thousands of years of history?" said Dr. Michaels.

"How can you be certain the message is for me?" I asked.

Dr. Michaels said, "That part is admittedly a hunch, but the coincidence seems unlikely although, the 'V' symbol can be interpreted as anything from a modern day 'A' to a numeric '5' not to mention it's correlation to rivers, valleys, and mountain ranges. It just seems it's prominence in the writings surrounding this team's finds is unmistakably abnormal."

Rambling thoughts bounced around inside my skull, but it was the word mountain which kept echoing. There was the crazy dream I had and whatever I am to call the trip my grandmother sent me on. In both there were mountains and a cave and something about that made me wonder if the symbol had more to do with that than me personally. If only I could wrap my head around the impossibilities posed by the theory, then I might start to understand what was expected of me.

"What about caves?" I asked.

Dr. Michaels looked up at me with a furrowed brow. "It's possible. Do you have a theory?" He said.

"Maybe, but it doesn't make any sense," I said, shaking my head. "At least not yet."

"Care to share?" Dr. Michaels asked, impatiently folding his arms across his chest.

I said, "Not yet. I need more information to make any sense."

"Perhaps I could help?" Dr. Michaels said.

I glanced around the room taking in the photographs and the fringes of understanding began to grip at the edges of my ability to understand. "It's some sort of a map," I said, turning in circles, staring at the photographs.

"A map?"Dr. Michaels said making not attempt to hide his skepticism.

"Not in the typical sense," I said, not sure I completely understood what was shooting through my head, "The placement of the symbols is specific and out of alignment with everything else."

"It's typical of titling or labeling," Dr. Michaels said.

"It has a pattern and it's familiar, but I'm not placing it just yet," I said, frustrated I could not put the final connections together despite the feeling that they should be obvious.

"I'll run it through the computer, but it seems like a waste of time," Dr. Michaels said.

I shrugged trying to relax in hopes the realization would come flowing once I was not trying so hard to make it happen. "I'm not sure the computer will catch it without more to go on, but there is definitely a familiar pattern here. I just can't quite recall where I've seen it before," I said.

The phone buzzed from underneath the papers on Dr. Michaels' desk and Kyra voice said, "Jack would like everyone out here at the conference table." Dr. Michaels and I looked at each other across the desk and he nodded. "After you," He said, gesturing toward the door.

Everyone else was already seated when Dr. Michaels and I arrived. Tom and Kyra looked a little anxious and I realized they were all more than ready to get back out in the field, chasing down artifacts rather than sitting around the office. Maybe Jack had someplace for us to go, but I had a hunch his purpose was otherwise. Once we were seated, Jack cleared his throat to get everyone's attention.

Jack said, "You all know we are behind on this one. We don't even know what we're looking for or where and when it's from. We've had our successes and failures in the past and I'm sure we've got more of each ahead of us, but right this minute we can't afford another failure. "

A glance around the table told me it was Jack's version of a pep talk, only it lacked any pep. Somber faces all around me and we all had work to do, although, I remained uncertain of my own role, particularly since Jack seemed unwilling to trust me in a leadership role. Kyra, Tom and Dr. Michaels all had definitive points to focus on that were specific to their skills, but Jack and I were a little less specialized in what we brought to the table which made me wonder if he ever felt like I did; Pulled in a dozen directions without any focus.

He said, "Ms. West is returned to active status now that her stint in disciplinary duties is over and although she remains on probationary status for the time being, I have decided to have her resume her former role, allowing Gene to focus on other priorities."

Dr. Michaels nodded and I found myself smiling, almost giddy that life was starting to get back to normal. Tom and Kyra seemed to approve as well, but my guess is they were just tired of Dr. Michaels smugness breathing down their necks from a position of authority. Give it a week and they will both be tired of my hanging over them as well.

Jack said, "Tom, you're working on tracking down Stratford and Kemp?" Tom nodded and Jack turned to Dr Michaels. He said, "Gene, stay on those translations. Ms. West," Jack turned his head to look at me, "You will coordinate with Tom and Gene, provide whatever assistance they need and if you have any additional avenues you think we should pursue I would like to hear about it first." I nodded. Jack continued, "Kyra is working on a finding a pattern that may narrow our search and I'm pursuing a few other possibilities with the assistance of our diplomatic contacts abroad. With a little luck, we'll be back on the trail in no time."


  1. Ash, great that Virginia is back where she belongs.
    The fact that she seems to be getting messages from different times and spaces means that this story can go almost anywhere.
    Still I'm happy to follow as long as it remains interesting.
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash,

    Good story,glad to see everyone playing along nice on the team

  3. It would be pretty shocking if Jack was revealed as a spy after all this time. I think I'd prefer to see him proved as clean though.

  4. Paul, Virginia is indeed back and for the entirety of February in fact. She still have a few things to put together for the story to really start revealing all its mysteries, but despite the possibilities opened up by some of the avenues I have, in my opinion, kept the story quite grounded in most respects.

    Al, I'm sure playing nice is only a temporary insanity brought on by the end of the month and transitioning back from the doldrums of her almost ordinary life to the exciting adventures awaiting in the coming weeks. We'll get back to playing naughty before you know it.

    Ace, It would be a shock to me too although I think that might have been his previous profession before Q5.