Revenge: A Love Story
by Van © 2001
GYM (DEEP IN "THE KATACOMBS")
The various nexus of
the Eve 6900
artificial intelligence exercise complete, intimate control of
important TESSERACT facilities, with one or more of Eve's various
avatars acting as a convenient interface for the human members of the
corporation. On Gondaloo Island, that was "Gondaloo Eve," with
her lilting Irish accent. In the public areas of the Headquarters
Campus in Seattle (as well as the secret complex of mirrored corridors,
laboratories, and chambers known to Margo's Inner Circle as "the
Biosphere"), it was "Eve-Prime," with her warm, alto, American
voice. But in "the Katacombs," the labyrinth of concrete, steel,
and stone corridors and tunnels under the Biosphere, "Eve-L"
Eve-L (known variously as "Evelyn,"
"Lyn," or "Evil-Eve" by members of the Inner Circle) was the Eve 6900's
Security Avatar, a specialist in cybernetic defense, investigation,
covert ops (and interrogation), designed as a cyber-partner for Kat
Mayfair, Margo Well's Director of Security and personal
bodyguard. As such, Eve-L's personality (and sense of fun)
complemented Kat quite effectively. In truth, few TESSERACT
employees encountered Eve-L, but those who had would never
forget the Avatar's blonde hair, big brown eyes, gracefully
pointed chin, and twisted (some would say slightly maniacal)
much as they might want to forget.
Out of the corner of one eye, Kat
noticed Eve-L pop into the holographic tank display of the combat gym's
display, her image huge and imposing. Kat was busy at the moment,
experimenting with a new weapon. A "bastard sword", it was a
straight, dull blade with a straight crosspiece, a long,
two-handed grip, and a heavy pommel. Kat parried a thrust from
her humanoid, robot sparring partner, reversed the weapon (one hand on
the crosspiece, the other on the blade), and used the bastard's pommel
to deliver a stunning blow to the robot's
chin. This was followed by a kick to the robot's groin, a sweep
Kat's reversed blade (which the robot barely evaded), and ended with
behind and over the now kneeling robot, the crosspiece of her sword
the elbow of the robot's sword arm in what (for a human) would be a very
painful, disabling hold. The robot dropped its sword and emitted
a loud beep, signaling surrender.
Naked and dripping with sweat, Kat
salutes with her robot opponent, then gracefully walked towards the
gym's weapon wall, swinging the bastard in sweeping figure-eight hand
as she went. "It's an interesting weapon," she told Eve-L,
acknowledging her presence.
"Almost more a stick weapon than a
blade," Eve-L observed.
"Exactly," Kat purred, wiping the
bastard with towel and tack cloth, then returning it to its place among
the dozens of blades racked on the wall. "I need a version that's
lighter... and stronger."
"A titanium and ceramic lattice,
bonded in microgravity," Eve-L suggested. "The trick will be
finding the correct balance of weight and speed."
"Exactly," Kat agreed. "It
needs to be light and quick like a katana, to allow saber work,
yet heavy enough for pommel strikes to be decisive." A glass wall
slid closed over the swords, returning the lethal collection to display
status. Kat spun on her heel and faced the holographic
display. She knew the avatar hadn't appeared to discuss edged
weapons. "Well?" Kat demanded.
"I have your
briefing right here," Eve-L said
with a mischievous smile. "Don't get your nonexistent panties
in a theoretical bunch." Eve-L instantly changed to "secretary
glasses and caricature business attire replacing her former virtual
costume. She consulted a virtual file folder and began.
"Margo has given
you formal approval to commence 'Operation Fox Hunt.'" Eve-L
into the folder and pulled out a virtual document, a sheet of parchment
covered with elegant calligraphy and several wax seals with pendant
Kat smiled and reached for a
towel. Eve-L loved these little theatrical touches, and Kat
indulged her. A wicked, slightly crazy sense of humor was
a useful trait... especially during interrogations.
(Behind Kat's back and as the
bodyguard used the towel to pat her face, the previously inert sparring
robot took one silent, careful step forward.)
"You're booked on tomorrow's Qantas
suborbital shuttle, business class," Eve-L continued, then lifted her
glasses with one hand and smiled sweetly. "You sure you don't
want me to strap you into a nice, fast cargo drone? We don't have
anything in our inventory with the required range for a direct
launch, but I might be able to divert an Air Force ICBM out of
Vandenberg for you. I think you'll fit under the nose
cone... strapped in a tight fetal tuck. Only twelve g's... and
it'll cut nearly three hours off the trip."
"Very funny," Kat growled.
"Upgrade me to first class. I'm on vacation."
"Yes Miss Mayfair," Eve-L
cooed. (The sparring robot took another slow, unseen step
forward.) "On a lighter note, I have successfully
captured the command kernel of the Gondaloo Nexus."
"Congratulations," Kat said
sarcastically. "You are the Security Avatar," she
reminded the towering hologram. "A few passwords and you can
'back door' any avatar in any nexus... except Margo's personal
avatar, of course."
"It's a little more
complicated than that," Eve-L said primly, "but you're essentially
correct. In any case..." A mask appeared above Eve-L's open
palm, a mask with the face of the singer Enya, the guise preferred by
Jamie Seaton for Gondaloo Island's local avatar. Eve-L and the
mask spoke as one. "For all purposes
and for the duration of the Fox Hunt, I am 'Gondaloo Eve'."
Kat purred, patting her face again. (The sparring robot took one
more step forward.) "What about the complication we discussed
earlier?" Kat continued.
"Jessie McQuade and
Chelsea Brightman have been enjoying the amenities of Gondaloo Island
Resort for two days," Eve-L said, consulting her file folder, "and have
twelve days remaining in their scheduled visit. Your request to restrain
them during Operation Fox Hunt is still denied." Kat
frowned. "Margo says..." Instantly, Eve-L's face became
that of TESSERACT's CEO, and she spoke with Margo's voice... "Tell Kat
that Jessie and Penny's kid sister are off limits...period...no
exceptions... no 'accidents'... and no convenient
be accepted after the fact. Leave them out of it, or Operation
Hunt will become Operation Skin the Kat! Work around
the kids, or wait for the next window of opportunity... but don't
ask again! " Margo's face vanished and once again Eve-L was
Kat paused for
several seconds, deep in thought. "I'll take that as a 'no'," she
"We'll find some
way to keep 'the kiddies' occupied while you have your way with their
elders," Eve-L said. "You know how much you love a
challenge," she added with a sweet smile.
"Challenge, yes," Kat
The blade of the sparring robot's
practice sword whistled towards Kat's head. She ducked and
successfully evaded the strike, but not the robot's balancing
leg sweep. Kat landed clumsily, sliding several feet on the gym's
padded floor. She then growled, slapped the mat in frustration,
bounced back to her feet, and
counterattacked. She used her towel to entangle the robot's
sword, then landed several rapid blows with her free hand, followed by
a leg sweep of her own and a "killing" blow to the robot's head.
Her opponent down,
entered the "session over" code in the robot's hidden keypad (something
knew in hindsight she should have done before chatting with
Eve-L). "Dammit!" she muttered under her now panting breath, then
stood and faced the gloating hologram.
"Oh, Kat," Eve-L cooed. "I'm so
disappointed. I shouldn't have been able to touch
you. You were distracted... thinking about all the delicious things
you're going to do to your precious little Freckle Fox, weren't you?"
Kat said nothing. Her breathing
returned to normal (but she was still slick with sweat).
"You know the rules, darling," Eve-L
continued. "Hmm... I'll have to think of something creative
for your penalty." Without warning, a plastic, half liter bottle
of cool, clear water flew from the shadows, arcing towards the side of
Kat's head. The nude, sweating bodyguard caught it without
flinching. "Take a nice, big mouthful," Eve-L ordered, "but don't
swallow." As Kat uncapped the bottle and
complied, Eve-L extended her hand. A glowing diagram materialized
the grinning avatar's virtual palm. Kat recognized a map of the
Katacombs. A closed route through the steel and concrete maze was
pulsing in red as
the map slowly rotated. "One... two... three... four... five,
" Eve-L counted. The map disappeared. "Start running,"
ordered, "and when you get back here, that water better still be in
mouth." Kat glared at the gloating avatar. "...and don't
lost," Eve-L purred, "or we'll do this all night. Now run!
...fast!" Kat sprinted from the gym, her black
hair fanning as she made the turn at the door. "It's only
two miles," Eve-L shouted at Kat's rapidly disappearing, glistening
Revenge: A Love Story
TWO DAYS LATER...
GONDALOO ISLAND, GREAT
Jamie Seaton, Ph.D.,
Director of the
Gondaloo Marine Institute, throttled back the twin water jet turbines
of her Zodiac dive boat as she entered Gondaloo Resort's main
lagoon. She was tired. It had been a long day of diving,
the final dive deeper down the outer
face of the reef than she usually worked. That had meant not only
limited bottom time, but long, cold decompression stops on the
back to the surface: hanging onto the line at various depths for long,
predetermined intervals while the dissolved gases left her system, her
only company the streamlined shape of Eve's robo-torp "diving buddy"
circling and idling
nearby, like a nervous mother dolphin.
Jamie ran her free hand through her
red hair as she guided the Zodiac into the boathouse. She'd
it cut during a recent visit to Brisbane... and still wasn't
she liked it. The curly, shoulder length mop was more
functional, easier to rehabilitate after a day's fieldwork, but still...
Jamie gunned the throttle and eased
boat into its waiting cradle, then grabbed her gear and lugged it
towards the equipment alcove. The boathouse system automatically
lifted the Zodiac out of the water and began its daily maintenance
cycle. Meanwhile, Jamie rinsed and stowed her fins and mask, then
grabbed her rebreather, inspected all the fittings, valves, and
controls, then plugged it into its recharger/diagnostic stand.
Only then did she see to her own needs, stripping, rinsing, and
hanging her wetsuit, then showering herself.
As Jamie toweled dry, she
saw a string bikini
in a moss green and peach floral pattern and matching sarong waiting on
a convenient hanger. Jamie smiled. Penny's gentle
reminder, she mused. 'No shocking the visitors by
parading around in nothing but freckles!' The Resort only had
two visitors at the moment, both of which were under a shield order
from Margo (meaning no Inner Circle activities in their presence), but
Penny had taken things further. In a fit of English Reserve,
all sorts of unreasonable rules. In
addition to the
wearing of clothes in public, the tall, blonde hostess was insisting on
things like regular, scheduled meals, and no running by the
pool! It's because Chelsea's her little sister, of course,
had time to interact a great deal with the young visitors,
busy finishing her current project, but neither Jessie (the red haired
Yank) nor Chelsea, (the chatty, perky, blonde little sister in
struck Jamie as needing coddling or sheltering of any
Jamie donned the bikini and sarong, plugged her waterproof palmcom into
an I/O port to download the day's data, and left the boathouse.
Stretching and yawning, Jamie walked
towards the verandah nearest to the lagoon. Penny was waiting,
tall, tan, bikini-clad form stretched full length on a lounge chair,
basking in the afternoon sun. "Finished?" Gondaloo's official
Jamie smiled and shook her
head. "One more day," she answered. "One more long, deep
dive, actually... then analysis." Across the lagoon, Jamie could
see Jessie and Chelsea stretched out on the sand of the beach
opposite. As she watched, Chelsea nudged her taller, redheaded
companion and pointed towards the verandah. Jamie and Penny
waved. Both bikini-clad youngsters waved back, then waded into
the lagoon and swam towards them.
Penny sat up in her chair and frowned
at Jamie. "You're an absolute mess," she scolded, then patted the
foot of the chair between her spread legs. "Sit."
Jamie smiled and settled down as
ordered. Penny produced a hairbrush from her nearby bag and began
brushing Jamie's still damp locks. Jamie leaned back on her
locked elbows, luxuriating in the hot, tropical sun and the gentle tug
of the bristles pulling through her hair. "Any progress talking
your sister into gracing the hall of academe?" Jamie asked. "That
is the real reason your parents sent her out here to see you."
Penny laughed. "Actually,
Jessie seems to be the one making progress along that
line. She paints a very attractive picture of life at the
University of Arizona."
Now Jamie laughed. "It ought
to be attractive. Wish I'd been well heeled enough to
afford a townhouse next to campus my first year at Melbourne."
"She's strikes me as a good student
a good person," Penny said, "... a little surprising, actually, in
light of her recent past."
"She is a good kid," Jamie
agreed. Both had read the confidential report on Charlie's
kidnapping and the events of the Copperhead Canyon Affair.
"She drives mother and father
absolutely insane," Penny sighed, "...but then, so did I," she
added in a whisper.
In mid lagoon, Jessie and Chelsea's
was interrupted by the arrival of a dolphin, one of the pod that
visit the lagoon (and had expertly trained Jamie and Penny to perform
tricks, like the occasional distribution of free fish). The girls
and splashed, playing with the friendly, gentle mammal.
"I wonder why Margo sent them
out here... together I mean," Jamie mused aloud.
"In case you haven't noticed," Penny
said, continuing to brush Jamie's rapidly drying hair, "Margo is an
absolute genius when it comes to interpersonal relations." Out in
the lagoon, a second dolphin had appeared, and Chelsea and Jamie were
enjoying high speed rides around the lagoon, shrieking and laughing as
the dolphins dragged them through the churning, turquoise water.
"She does have a flair for
pairing people off into effective partnerships," Jamie murmured, "for
the good of the company, of course." The grinning redhead
reached back with her left hand and nudged Penny's crotch.
Penny gasped, then leaned forward and
whispered in Jamie's ear. "Cheeky Monkey!" She then grabbed
the offending appendage by the forearm, pulled it up between Jamie's
shoulder blades, pulled one loop of the bow securing Jamie's top around
the redhead's wrist, and pulled it taut.
"You're going to get us in trouble,"
still grinning. "Not in front of the children!"
right wrist joined her left, leaving her arms folded in
a double hammerlock, tied to the back of her bikini top by single
strands. This was further secured when Penny looped the remaining
free ends of the string around Jamie's wrists, doubling her bonds, then
tied a tight bow.
"'The children' are busy playing,"
Penny observed, then undid the string at the nape of Jamie's neck and
used it to bind her freckled captive's thumbs tightly together,
finishing with another neat bow.
Jamie tugged on her bonds.
Captor and captive watched the cups of Jamie's top press and pull at
her freckled breasts. "Penny!" the prisoner protested.
Penny folded her long, tan legs
around Jamie's waist and leaned close. "At this distance and
angle the girls can't see that anything's amiss..." The gloating
blonde reached under Jamie's sarong and untied the string on the
squirming redhead's right
hip, releasing the captive's bikini bottom. "...not even when I
Jamie gasped as Penny's fingers
caressed her damp sex, then squirmed in earnest when her blonde captor
parted her labia and began massaging her now erect clitoris.
"Keep still, Monkey," Penny cooed,
"and smile, or the girls will think something's
"Just you wait," Jamie whispered
through clenched teeth. "Just you wait... 'til tonight... after
they're asleep... and... and..."
Penny withdrew her hand and busied
herself retying Jamie's bottom with her now damp fingers. "Well,
if you're going to be that way," she said, releasing her
scissors hold on Jamie's waist and returning her legs to their former
Jamie panted in frustration, her
teeth still clenched in a cheerful smile. "Teasing Bitch!"
"Did I start something you can't
finish?" Penny inquired. "Sorry, darling. Wave at the
children," she ordered. "Oh, silly me,"
the grinning blonde sighed in mock distress. "You're all tied up,
aren't you? Here, I'll wave for you."
Out in the lagoon,
still busy playing with their dolphin friends, Jessie and Chelsea
noticed Penny waving from the distant verandah (and Jamie still sharing
hostess' chair). They waved back and returned to their fun.
"Just you wait."
Jamie promised, still panting.
Revenge: A Love Story
SUNSET, THE SAME DAY...
McKELLEN ISLAND, GREAT
KILOMETERS FROM GONDALOO ISLAND)
A tan, lithe, athletic, very
female figure walked down McKellen Island's modest charter pier,
lugging two large, black duffle bags. Several of the locals
offered her a hand, or a charter (or anything else she might be
interested in). All were coldly ignored. The figure had
dark hair, and was wearing a scandalously skimpy, black, string
bikini. Her eyes were hidden behind dark, stylish shades.
The two bags were obviously heavy, banding the toned muscles of the
arms and shoulders. (The locals assumed they were full of dive
The woman carried the bags with ease. She was in very
shape... in every sense of the word.
The woman stopped beside
a dirty white cabin cruiser with the name Tarsis-III painted on
the transom. Reclined in the captain's chair, Alex Henstridge
looked up, squinting into the setting sun. The tan, blonde-gray,
forty-something ex-Major (Australian Army, SAS, retired) smiled.
"Sorry, love," he said. "Already got me a charter." The
woman's lips curled in a sardonic grin and she lifted her shades.
"Oh, it's you,"
he said, in mock surprise. "In that case, screw the
The woman shook her
head, removed the shades completely, folded them, and tucked them
through the string of her top, between her firm, tan breasts. "As
you well know," Katherine Mayfair said, "I am your
and you've been on the TESSERACT payroll for more than twenty four
hours." She tossed one of the bags to Alex, who huffed upon
he swore. "What ya got in this thing?" Kat ignored the
question, tossing him the second bag. She then walked down the
pier, untied Tarsis-III's bowline and tossed it aboard.
"In a hurry are we?" Alex called. Kat still said nothing.
The bikini-clad beauty walked to the stern and undid the stern
line. "Don't mind me," Alex groused, "I'm just the bloody
captain." Protests aside, he returned to the captain's chair,
started the engine, and twisted the boat away from t he pier.
The locals watched
Tarsis-III depart, Alex's bikini-clad charter standing like a
statue of some perfect, athletic goddess at the stern, facing the bow,
on hips. Her dark hair streamed behind her, tinged auburn by the
light of the setting sun. "Lucky sod!" was the general consensus,
by several beers raised in salute.
"Still practicin' yer
fancy kung fu?" Major Alex asked as they cleared the outer marker.
Kat sat on the
gunwale and smiled, crossing her bare feet atop a convenient
cooler. "Still practicing your kung fu, ol' timer?"
Alex lunged forward
and flipped Kat's heels off the cooler with one hand. Kat vaulted
off the gunwale, somersaulted in midair and landed on her feet on the
other side of the deck, ready for combat. By this time, Alex had
opened the cooler and extracted two cans of Victorian Bitter. He
opened one and tossed the other to Kat. "I've picked up a few new
tricks since the last time we danced," he said.
Kat opened the beer
and took a slow, deep drink. "I can take you with both hands tied
behind my back," she boasted.
Alex took a slow
drink of his own, his eyes locked with Kat's. He watched as the
breeze lifted strands of her long, dark hair. "I'll take that
challenge," Alex said with a grin.
Kat's eyes widened
an instant, then she smiled. "I can take you bound hand and foot."
"Now that I gotta see." Kat finished her beer as Tarsis-III's
captain punched coordinates in the boat's autopilot, turned on the
navigational radar (the sea was clear to the radar horizon), and
flipped control to the piloting computer. "How 'bout instead of
us poundin' each other bloody... you just give me a demonstration of
your escape artistry. Will that stroke your ego?"
"You can't tie me,"
Kat purred. "I can get out of anything you'd put me in."
Alex sighed and
rolled his pale, blue eyes. "'I can take you with both hands tied
behind my back,'" he whined, imitating his grinning passenger.
"'You can't tie me.' I can flap my arms and fly to Darwin."
Kat smiled. "Sheila," he continued, "your ego doesn't need
strokin'... it needs a flippin' massage." Kat
laughed. "Okay, strip off," he
ordered, sorting through a nearby tackle box.
"You have got
to be kidding," Kat said with a skeptical snort.
"No blades, no hidden
gizmos," Alex said, then lifted one brow in a sardonic grin, "...so no
Kat returned the
grin... then slowly reached behind her back and began untying the top
of her bikini.
Alex sat back on the
cooler and took a drink from his beer. "Christ!" he whispered,
loud enough to be heard, "she's gonna do it!"
soon, Kat's bikini was removed and tossed atop one of her bags, along
with her shades. She pivoted on one bare heel and crossed her
wrists behind her back, atop her firm, dimpled buttocks. Alex
stepped forward and began binding her wrists (after adjusting them
palm-to-palm). Whatever he was using, Kat could tell it was thin,
very thin, and strong. The breeze was blowing Kat's hair
around her face. She turned her head to look over her shoulder,
and all she got was a face full of flailing strands. "What the
hell is that stuff?" she demanded.
"Fishin' line, 300
test," Alex answered, "braided teslon, the floatin' kind."
growled (but significantly, didn't act to halt the process of her
"Don't worry love,"
Alex said. "I know all the right knots for tyin' this kinda
stuff. You'll get a fair workout... and let's leave my family
history out of this, shall we?"
"Just don't cut me,"
Alex paused, reached
up and gently pulled the still flailing hair away from Kat's face,
leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. "I wouldn't dream
of it, love," he said quietly.
sailed on in the general direction of Gondaloo Island, obedient to the
programmed commands of its navigational computer.
|| of Kat's Revenge: A