(Because I missed last week, this is a special longer episode of the Monk. Sorry for the disruption)!
Peterson smiled gleefully at the strange audience in attendance to him. He spread out his palms before him in a gesture of welcome.
“May no good deed go unpunished!”
Nix and the two women immediately started chuckling at Peterson’s joke.
“It is good to meet fellow Tyranni, when I put out the call for help I was surprised to find that our order already had two agents living and working in this city. We have a problem. There is a monk living in this city: a young man by the name of Kent. He is studying to become a druid and he has some sort of missionary work here for the Aeshir.”
Nix produced a tablet computer and sent a file labelled “Kent Andrews” to the two women present. Each woman pulled out a similar looking tablet and examined the photos of Kent in the files while Peterson continued talking.
“Kent appears to be working to recruit three young growkons into the Aeshir. We know these growkons are working with him because when we tried to apprehend him yesterday they conspired with Kent to acquire some damaging video footage of Nix and myself carrying out our work for the Tyranni. Kent is now threatening our order with this footage and the growkons he is trying to recruit are continuing to assist him.
“Our primary objective is to first secure the footage at the earliest opportunity. The best approach for doing this would be to corrupt Kent’s growkons and initiate them into the Tyranni. This way if anyone releases the footage we can have someone counter any claims they make about us by saying they are fake. Ideally they would help us delete all copies of this video and murder anyone who is hostile to the Tyranni. If we can get just one of these growkons to convert to the order then we can act to destroy all opposition, but I see no reason why we shouldn’t try to recruit all three if possible.”
The two women nodded silently, the smartly dress woman paused for a few moments to write some notes down about what Peterson had said.
“Since we will be working together for the next few days or even weeks while Nix and I are in town, it would be worth while getting to know each other. Obviously I am Sophim Saul Peterson and this is my servant Venial Ben Nix. We work at the Grand Temple of Spardes up state in the department of silence. Would both of you care to tell us who are you and what have you been doing here in the service of our faith?”
The immaculately dressed woman spoke first, “Actually, Sophim Peterson, it was I, Sophim Deaspara who alerted the head of your temple to the presence of Aeshir in this town. He sent you here to help me. However, instead of coming to see me first, like you should have, you blundered and that’s the only reason why we have such a serious problem. I have been living here for years establishing a network of informants and more importantly seeking out an Aeshir base located somewhere in this city. Kent showed up on my radar just a few days ago thanks to one of my informants so I informed the Master Vinum at the Grand Temple of Spardes, and he decided to send a hunter to aid me. You were obviously so ambitions that thought you could impress the Master Vinum by coming here, killing him, and then heading back again without having to ask for my help.”
Peterson was taken aback by Deaspara’s tone of authority, he had not expected Deaspara to be of equal rank, yet he was careful not to let her see it. Instead his smile changed to one of subtle malignance as he regarded Deaspara. He sized her up for her potential to be his rival.
“Kent is a druid, looking to recruit some growkons for the Aeshir, it looks like he has been living here under your nose for years.”
Deaspara shook her head, “No. If Kent had been actively recruiting here, I would have known about it. This city only has over one hundred thousand people in it. My informants would have picked up any formal missionary activity. You are concerned about Kent, but I suspect he is just one of several, if not dozens, of Aeshireans established in this city. Judging from the equipment that’s been going missing, there is a base of Salvati here.”
Peterson chuckled, “Yet your informants failed to find this druid walking about for how many years? It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve been wasting your time chasing ghosts here.”
“I have not been wasting my time; I just hadn’t paid any attention to the industry here. The hospital here is the largest in this part of the country. It takes in patients from not just this city, but all the surrounding towns. In fact it is a renowned institution. The whole hospital is bugged thanks to me. Yet the hospital is having problems with infiltration: missing equipment, supplies, and recently an entire ward of sick people mysteriously got better.”
“People mysteriously got better inside a hospital? What are you doing in this city?”
“Because the hospital is a somewhat renowned institution many powerful and rich figures come here for treatment, and that’s my primary interest: gathering intelligence on VIPs. I married myself to one of the doctors at the hospital. He’s a shallow bleeding heart save-the-world type, a silly weak man, but he pays most of my bills and introduced me to the hospital management staff. There I have started an affair with one of my husband’s colleagues who takes pleasure in the suffering of the hospital inmates. It has taken some time, but I have managed persuade him to deliberately infect a group of people with golden staph. Once these people were infected the next step was to give them small doses of anti-biotics so as not to kill off the infection entirely but to keep it going long enough to develop universal anti-biotic resistance. The Tyranni want samples of a superbug for use as a weapon of terror and assassination. The project was going well until just a few weeks ago when everyone infected with the staph suddenly got better all at once. This was before we could take a sample of the anti-biotic resistant strain.”
“I see, so you failed in your mission,” said Peterson coldly.
“It has been a major delay but I will find another group to infest soon.”
“If you do it again too soon, you are risking drawing attention to your activities though, and you don’t even know why they got better. Maybe the staph just isn’t infectious enough to kill?”
Deaspara shook her head slowly, “No, I have tested it. It kills alright.”
“You suspect the Aeshir?”
“I see. Nix, the other files.”
Nix opened his tablet and sent out three more files. These files were labelled for Paul, Oriana, and Kelly. As well as photos they contained an assortment of notes: birth certificates, school grades, job applications, tax returns, and other confidential information.
“Perhaps you can try your killer staph on one of these growkons,” suggested Nix, “They might not connect it to us.”
“Good idea Nix,” said Peterson, “Tell me, Deaspara, is it a painful death?”
Deaspara ran her tongue across her pearly white teeth, “A deliciously painful death.”
“This girl is enrolled at the trades school,” exclaimed the purple haired woman who hadn’t spoken up until now.
“This is Syndi, she’s my Venial operative here assisting with the troubled teens and young adults, I recruited her to the Tyranni a year ago,” explained Deaspara.
“Yes, and it says here that this girl Kelly is enrolled in a chef’s course at the local trade school. I can deal with her,” declared Syndi decisively.
“Good, get started right away. Find out her timetable, get close to her, and start witnessing her into the order,” commanded Deaspara. She continued examining Paul’s file, “It says here in Paul’s resume that he is involved in a school mentoring program for troubled youth. They are a Christian group who sometimes come to the hospital to do activities there. I have been meaning to see if I can disrupt their activities. I shall contact them and see if I can deal with Paul one on one.”
Nix spoke up next, “I am good with sniffing out infiltrators. If you can get me a security job inside the hospital I can track down whoever it is that has sabotaged your efforts there.”
Deaspara looked at Nix thoughtfully, “Actually, that’s a good idea, you might also be able to help smuggle some samples of the bacterial strains we’re working on. I will get my idiot husband to give you a reference.”
“Good, I will focus on Oriana because she is the key to locating Kent. Besides, I have a score to settle with her.”
Deaspara pounced, “So did you get out-smarted by a teenage girl?!”
Peterson gritted his teeth, “One doesn’t expect a nineteen year old girl to have the courage to lie to a police officer.”
Deaspara laughed, “Oh, you tried the I-am-a-police-officer line and a nineteen year old called you out on it. Maybe you got promoted to Sophim too soon?”
“I will be Vinum long before you after you let a whole ward of plague victims get better.”
Deaspara clasped her long boney fingers together and beamed, “I think it is fortuitous that we are brought together, I think we can help each other out, and since we’re both ambitious for a promotion, maybe we can both get what we want from each other?”
Peterson smiled predatorily, “Sounds like an excellent idea. Remember that our goal is to get at least one of the growkons to betray their friends and if possible sway them to join the Tyranni. However, if at any time we have all four of these people within our grasp at once we will kill them all at once immediately and with prejudice.”
The group giggled enthusiastically at the last sentence. Satisfied with the outcome of their meeting they adjourned and departed.