Achilles Gets Inked

What is a Texas governor doing as part of the terrorist group, Chronos? Why did he think he was the new Apollo after killing the sun god? What is going on? Tales of a Ginger presents the third installment of Achilles next epic adventure in

Achilles Gets Inked

Achilles opened the door into the governor’s offices. Former Texas governor, Oscar Kelly, came from the south lobby of the state capitol building. The only logical place that he might emerge from, if he was already in the building, would be this office. Why? Achilles had no clue. What would the governor be doing in the original office of the governor? The actual office was one floor up.

The office was completely void of modern technology. It was a wooden desk and chairs and tables, made of rich mahogany. At the opposite end of the office was the secretarial desk, up against the wall, windows dancing around it. Behind the desk is a table. To the left of the desk is the tall-back office chair, numbing the user’s butt worse than the deepest anesthetic. Along the wall, left of the desk and halfway into the office, was a table with green felt. The wall on the right was lined with chairs.

Achilles walked into the office and began looking for any signs of Kelly’s activity here. Or was it Apollo? That’s what Kelly was calling himself. The desk was clean, containing only the paperwork left by the staffers who use the office. As he was about to leave the desk he found a cubby that was locked closed. Not having the patience to go back to Kelly’s body to search it, Achilles punched the wooden paneling, exposing the button hidden in the cubby. He pressed the button.

Behind him he heard a click and the sound of wall scraping against wall. He turned around and saw that the green felt table and the wall it was lined against had slid towards him exposing a gap in the wall. Achilles looked into the newly opened wall and saw a metal pole descending down into a cave.

“Well?” asked Hermes.

“Well, what?” replied Achilles.

“Aren’t you going to see where this leads? Down the rabbit hole?”

“If you call me Alice I will kill you.”

Achilles grabbed the pole, wrapping his arms and legs around it, and slid down. He was not prepared for what he saw. All around the cave were old computers. Really old computers. With red, yellow, and green lights; a bunch of flips and switches. To his left was a massive tower with glowing lights swirling round it. There was a ladder leading up to a platform on top of the tower of lights. In the center of the cave was a car, a black car with red stripes. It was a two-seater car with bubble windshield for each seat. There was an image of a bat on the hubcaps and the door panels.

“What am I looking at?” asked Achilles.

“If I’m not mistaken, and I never am, it’s a replica of the Batcave from the 1966 TV series,” answered Hermes.

“What?”

“Apparently this new ‘Apollo’ is a huge fan of the TV show.”

“I can see that. So this is a waste of time to come down here.”

“Not necessarily. This kind of psychosis leads me to think he might have something down here.”

Achilles continued to look around. He found two vacuum tubes with mannequins . The mannequin on the left was bare. The other had a red suit and a yellow cape with green underwear and shoes. The head had a mask that only covered the eyes. Covering the left breast was an “R” symbol.

“Did this suit belong to a woman?”

“No,” answered Hermes, “It was the sidekick’s. His name was Robin.”

“Sounds like a woman to me.”

Achilles continued to look around the cave. The lights on the computers fascinated him. It’s not something one would see across the River Styx. Mixed in with the replicas was a massive computer bank, bored into the cave wall. It was a combination of Mac computer monitors on the wall and towers near the floor. Achilles looked at the towers and found the USB port. He took off his helmet and pulled out the iPad of the gods–feeling every bit as ridiculous as the cave he was in. He plugged in the tablet and ran the Oracle app.

Suddenly there was an alert tone. But it didn’t come from the iPad, but from the computer bank. Achilles looked up at the screen and saw a message. He wasn’t sure what it was or what it meant.

“Hermes, what is this?”

“It’s an IM, or instant message. It’s from a ‘Ceres,’ the Roman goddess of agriculture.”

“It says, ‘Have you killed him?’ Who is she talking about?”

“Let’s find out.”

Achilles switched to the iMessage app on the iPad, while the Oracle kept on searching the hard drive. He typed in, “Yes,” and tapped send. On the screen came a little grey bubble with an ellipses in the center, meaning that “Ceres” was responding.

Her reply came, “Good. Let’s meet to begin the next phase of our plan.”

Achilles typed on the iPad’s app, “Where?”

The reply said, “Pet Ink main offices here in Quebec. Top floor.”

Achilles closed the app and checked on the Oracle. It was done running. He placed the iPad back in helmet. He then picked up his spear and slammed the butt-end onto the ground. The earth started to shake, the ground beneath his feet cracked. A crevasse opened up around him, filling with water. Achilles sank into the water and disappeared from sight. In his place Reid rose up, out of the water, like flaming red phoenix reborn, doves flying overhead.  He was dressed in a black suit wearing a black shirt with white pin-stripes. He didn’t have on a tie, instead leaving his collar and top button undone. His sexiness filled the air like an intoxicatingly pleasant aroma. So pleasant was his aroma that even the cologne Sex Panther couldn’t overcome it.

He pulled his iPhone out of his pocket and activated the voice command, “Hermes, tell me how to get to this Pet Ink office.”

“Pulling the address up for you now.”

Reid looked at the closest car, the Batmobile. He walked over to it and examined it. It was a fully functioning car. He smiled. Of course someone so neurotic to believe he was the sun god Apollo, build a replica Adam West era Batcave, would have an actually working Bat-car. Reid hopped over the door, just like in the old show, plugged in the iPhone and activated the Hermes app.

The car roared to life like the great king of the African pride lands. But Hermes’ wings didn’t appeared from the hubcaps, it was batwings. He floored the accelerator and the car took off down the tunnel. He drove for what seemed miles until the tunnel rose up to the surface. Reid felt like Adam West’s Batman racing off to Gotham City to thwart some criminal like the Joker or the Riddler.

Once on the surface the the car entered into that hyperspace feeling as the car raced faster than light. The frozen morning sky and surface blurred together into a singular tunnel of hazy light. When it ended, he could see the skyline of Quebec. It was like Buckingham Palace met modern architecture. It was a bastion, a fortress protecting the capitalistic drive that built it.

Reid parked the car in front of the Pet Ink offices that Hermes pointed him to. He got out of the car and looked at the building. “Pet Ink” was stuck out like a pink thumb, wrapped in tattoo ink designs. The company specialized in animal tattoos. Didn’t matter the pet. Gerbils, hamsters, rats, ferrets, dogs and cats. Pet Ink would tattoo all of them. And there was someone here calling herself (he assumed it was a “she”) Ceres. She’ll be easy to find.

He walked into the lobby. Hanging from a railing on an upper floor was a massive painting, the same image on both sides. It was a picture of the company’s CEO and founder, Valerie Primrose, and her white tea-cup poodle, Duchess. Tattooed on the dog, which took up a lot of the animal’s body, was “World’s Greatest Dog.” Valerie was a pretty girl, with a round face and curly black hair that went down to her neckline.

He walked to the elevator and pressed the “Up” button. He looked at the sign on the wall telling him what office was on what floor. The CEO’s office was on the top floor, the 41st floor. He stepped into the elevator and pressed “41.” The doors closed and he could feel the car rise. Reid always found elevator rides to be a curious sensation. As the car moved up and down the elevator shaft he could feel the effects of gravity. Going up he could feel, ever so slightly, his body working against gravity, defying it.

The car stopped when the digital screen above the control panel read “41.” There was an accompanying chime to alert any passengers that a destination had been reached. The door opened and Reid stepped out of the elevator car.

Valerie’s office consisted of two rooms. First was the reception area right as soon as a person exited the elevator. The floor was marble tiles. Straight ahead from the elevator is the receptionist’s desk. It was a beautiful, modern metal framed desk with a glass top. The receptionist was seated, stapling some papers together. She, like everyone else, was frozen.

He walked out of the elevator to enter the door behind her. As he did he noticed that the receptionist hadn’t actually stapled the papers together yet. She had only placed the corners into position for the stapler to staple them. He took the stapler out of her hand and set it down on the desk. He then took her scissors and placed them in her empty hand and angled the blades to cut the corners off. He chuckled. It was cruel but it was funny.

The next room was the CEO office. The marble tiles continued into the room. At the far side was the CEO’s desk. Lining the walls on either side of the office, forming an aisle that took visitors to the CEO herself, were marble statues of various animals. Cows, horses, lizards, snakes, dogs and cats were all there.

The CEO was at her desk working, her back to him. When he walked in she perked up and said, “How was the trip, Governor?”

“Not Kelly,” answered Reid, as he walked across office to her desk.

“Who are you? Snarf, snarf!”

Reid stopped in mid-stride. He couldn’t believe his ears. “What did you just say?”

“Val doesn’t know what you’re talking about? Who are you? Snarf, snarf.”

“Did you just say, ‘snarf, snarf’?”

“Val asked you a question. Who are you? Snarf, snarf.”

“You did! You said ‘snarf, snarf’ like that guy from the old Thundercats cartoon. Haha!”

“Answer my question! Who are you? Snarf, Snarf!”

“Okay, I’m Reid. I take it you’re Valerie, since you refer to yourself in the third person.”

“Val is the goddess Ceres, goddess of agriculture.”

Reid laughed, “You’re Siri? The voice on the iPhone? You’re the reason why no one can spell what they are trying to say?Like when I tried to say ‘minionese’ and instead spelled ‘mini obese.’ Or a friend of mine tried to type, “This blows,’ and instead got, ‘This bowls.’ That’s you?”

“No, Val is Ceres, the Roman goddess.”

“Right, the voice on the iPhone that can’t give me directions to where I’m trying to go?”

“Val is Ceres! Snarf, snarf!”

“Okay.” Reid could see that jokes were making her uneasy, defensive, angry. He placed his hand in his pocket and pulled out his phone. He hid the phone behind his back, unlocking it, being ready for any fight that might ensue.

“Now, what are you doing here,” she asked again.

“I’m investigating Chronos, the terrorist group. They’ve killed Apollo and froze time. Seeing how you’re not affected by this I can only guess that you’re one of them.”

“You killed Kelly, then?”

“Yes I did. And now I’m wondering why you’re the second person today who has talked about being Roman deities.”

“It’s our reward for helping Jupiter.”

“And you’re going to be Ceres? Why her? Wasn’t here a better deity? Like Juno or Minerva?”

“Val was the last to be invited into Chronos. Snarf, Snarf. All the gods were taken.”

“But, I mean, have you ever been on a farm? Worked on a farm?”

“Don’t need to. And it doesn’t matter because you’ll be dead. Meet Rex.” As she said this, she pressed something on her desk. To Reid’s right he heard the cracking of stone. He turned his head to see that there was a real lion climbing down the pedestal. It was huge, its mane draping over its shoulders like a royal robe. The lion was so intimidating that it could have been voiced by likes of Liam Neeson or James Earl Jones.

“Hermes, what is that?” asked Reid.

“That’s a Nemean lion. One of the twelve trials that Heracles faced.”

“Oh–” before he could finish the lion leapt at him, its claws and teeth ready for the kill. Reid rolled to his left, barely getting out of the way. When he came to his feet he pressed the Shield icon and turned back into Achilles.

Achilles smiled at the beast, “Hello, Rex. Ready to die?”

The two creatures charged at each other. Achilles tried to stab the animal in the chest but nothing happened. The spear tip only indented the fur. It didn’t penetrate the skin.

“You’re not going to kill the lion by stabbing it,” Hermes said. “It’s skin is impenetrable.”

Before Achilles could respond the creature reared up on its hind legs and swiped at him with one of its powerful forepaws. Achilles dropped his spear and raised his shield to block the blow, using his spear-hand to help brace himself against it. The impact sent Achilles stammering backwards, trying desperately not to lose his footing. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to defeat the lion by taking to many blows like that.

“Then what do you suggest, you worthless weakling of a god?” The anger in his voice was boiling over.

“Heracles is the only one ever to defeat such a creature.”

“How about offering something helpful, like how to kill it and not who killed it.” Achilles dodged another swipe from the lion’s forepaw. But this paw looked different. It wasn’t part of the creature’s arm. It was a prosthetic limb. Someone had removed this limb and replaced it with an artificial one. The strength and razor sharp claws were still there, so it was just as deadly as the real one it replaced.

“The records aren’t clear. It was either choked to death or stabbed in the mouth.”

“Either option seems good to me.” Achilles pulled his sword out of its holster in the shield. He continued to evade the blows rather than try take them on straight up, using the shield to deflect and redirect instead of absorb. His spear was on the other side of the lion from himself. He needed it if he was going to choke or stab the creature.

The creature reared up and swiped at him with its artificial paw. Because this wasn’t covered by the skin of the lion it wasn’t impenetrable. Achilles sidestepped the blow while slashing his sword horizontally against the step. The blade cut through the limb, sending the animal sprawling to the floor, roaring in pain. It tried to stand but couldn’t. It was helpless.

Achilles placed the sword back in its place inside the shield while he raced for his spear. He looked like a basketball player touching the baseline in a running drill as he picked up the spear and turned back to his prey. He dropped his shield and raced for the wounded lion. He jumped onto its back like a predator pouncing. He wrapped the spear around the creature’s throat to choke it out.

The animal reared back to shake its attacker lose, but Achilles would not let go. It tried to buck, like a bronco or bull, but fell on its face. Still, Achilles held on. He could feel its strength starting to wane and its breathing to become more heavy and labored. It tried to shake even more fervently, sensing its demise approaching. Again, Achilles would not yield.

Finally, the animal collapsed, unable to hold itself up. Achilles could hear its breathing slow, weaken. He tightened his grip on the creature’s throat, completely cutting off its oxygen supply. The animal was too weak to fight back. It could only lie there and die.

When the creature quit breathing altogether, Achilles stood victorious over his prey. Heracles wasn’t the only one to kill a Nemean lion. He looked up to see Valerie at work on her computer. He heaved his spear back and flung it at her. The weapon flew through the air with a gentle grace. The spear struck the wall right above the computer screen. Val let out a shrill scream, filled with unholy terror.

She turned around to see Achilles standing on her table, crouched in a battle stance, sword drawn.

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you want? Snarf, snarf.”

“What is Chronos up to?”

“Val isn’t telling you. Besides, you’re too late.”

“What do you mean?”

“Val means, ‘I’ve got a secret and I’m not telling.'”

Achilles succumbed to his impatient rage and thrust his sword forward. The blade caught her in the chest, killing her instantly. He pulled the blade out of her chest, blood spilling out of the wound. He looked up at the computer screen and this on the screen in a message sent to “Bacchus,”

Achilles knows.

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~ by hankimler on July 26, 2013.

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