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"A man who seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society."

- Frederick the Great

Friday, 2 September 2011

CIA Cynthia and the Jackal Hunt

“You did what?” Brian nearly spilled his morning coffee. “Have you gone completely mental? You can’t just kidnap a CIA agent and turn her into a werewolf.”

“First of all, we didn’t kidnap her,” I said. “She asked for this. And second, we haven’t turned her yet. We’re taking her to the Circle of Initiation at Ryazan in Russia. Too many tourists at Stonehenge this time of year. But in the meantime, the CIA has gotten on our tails. They think she’s been abducted by al-Qaida and are searching for her. So we’ve got to drop off the grid for a few days. I told MI6 that I’ve gone under cover to find Gaddafi.”

“Okay, so where have you hidden her?”

“She’s outside in the car.”

Now he did spill his coffee.

“Are you bonkers? Any minute now, the house will be surrounded by black SUVs.”

“Don’t be silly. This isn’t America.”

“Right, black Mercedes then. But there will still be men in black suits with black sunglasses and automatic weapons. The GSG 9 don’t mess around. At least bring her inside where the neighbours can’t see.”

I went to fetch Cynthia from the car we had stolen in Genoa. Kasaqa and Caterina had come along for extra protection. I had briefed them about my human friend Brian, saying that he was helping me find Lysandra. Kasaqa was more than suspicious.

“You can’t trust any males,” she said. “How do you know he isn’t in league with the Apostates?”

“I’ve known Brian over fifty years, since he was a child,” I said. “He’s completely harmless. A former college professor.”

“You realise that this goes entirely against the Sisterhood’s laws,” said Kasaqa. “By rights, we should eat him.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take full responsibility. If at any time he starts acting suspiciously, I will munch him myself.”

We went into the house. Brian had just finished taking a large whisky with his coffee.

“Brian, I’d like to introduce my friends Kasaqa and Caterina,” I said.

“I’m very pleased to meet you finally,” said Brian nervously. “Andronica has told me a great deal about you. Caterina – you were an opera singer for Handel in London, if I recall correctly. You must tell me all about working with him; I’m writing a book about Handel’s compositional practices, and your insights would be most valuable. And Kasaqa. I’ve never met a pre-Ptolemaic Nubian princess before; is ‘Your Highness’ the proper form of address?”

Kasaqa ignored the question and pointed at Brian.

“You’ve told him all about us? Andronica, this has gone much too far.”

“Hey, remember me?” said Cynthia. “What exactly are we doing here? And who is this guy?”

“He’s a friend of mine,” I said. “We’re going to stay here a few days until things cool down. Then we drive to Russia for the Initiation.”

“I don’t get this Initiation business,” whined Cynthia. “Can’t you just bite me or something? Infect me with your werewolf virus.”

“You’ve been watching too many movies,” said Caterina. “Lycanthropy isn’t a disease. It’s a higher state of being, induced by union with the Wolf Spirit of the Divine Mother.”

“Oh, okay. So it’s more of a new-agey sort of thing. That’s cool. I have a friend who’s a Wiccan and she prays to Gaia. Is it something like that?”

Kasaqa rolled her eyes. “I told you we should have eaten her.”

“Look here,” said Brian. “I’ve been helping Aunt Andronica find Lysandra, but this whole thing is getting out of hand…”

Aunt Andronica?  You’ve got to be joking,” said Kasaqa.

“Well, we did first meet when he was six years old,” I said, “and the name stuck.”

“You’ve always had a soft spot for the humans,” said Kasaqa. “It gets you into trouble every time. Very well. We’ll put up here until Monday, and I will refrain from eating Brian. But you’ve got to promise that this Twitter and Facebook nonsense will stop. The very idea that you would ask your ‘Tweeps’ whether Cynthia should live or die is simply mind-boggling. You’re supposed to be a leader.”

“That’s why I’ve got so many followers,” I said.

“It’s not funny,” said Kasaqa. “You are jeopardising the Sisterhood’s security.”

“If you’ll permit me,” said Brian. “I disagree. The Twitterverse simply perceives it all as ‘twitfic’. Nobody believes that any of this is real. But if your Lysandra is out there somewhere, she will eventually catch wind of it, provided Andronica gets enough followers. From my understanding, Lysandra might be suffering from amnesia, so if she sees your names in Twitter, it might jog her memory.”

“Let me use a computer,” said Cynthia, “and I can retweet this to all my followers too. We could get a real buzz going.”

“You keep out of this,” snapped Kasaqa. “Right. Let’s set up a perimeter. Caterina, you’re on the first watch.”

“Just a moment,” said Brian. “I’m willing to let you stay here. But I still don’t know the whole story of Libya. I’ve only seen the tweets, and there’s not much you can say in 140 characters. Can’t you tell me what happened after your last blog entry, when you were about to go off in search of Apostates in Tripoli?”

“All right, here’s the short version,” I said. “After that lovely evening with Cynthia, which was so rudely interrupted by artillery fire, I decided to accompany the rebels into the centre of Tripoli to scout out the Apostates and judge their strength. I ran into nearly two dozen of them defending Gaddafi’s headquarters at Bab al-Aziza – too many even for me and my Berettas to deal with. So I called for reinforcements: Kasaqa from Cairo, Caterina from Venice, Licinia from Rome, and Mlada from Prague.”

“Wait a minute,” said Brian. “I thought you told me that Mlada was ‘excommunicated’ from the Sisterhood after the incident with the nuns’ brains, when you had that torrid little affair with her.”

“Shhh. I don’t want Cynthia to get the wrong idea. Besides, Mlada has sworn off brains, and was rehabilitated decades ago.  Don’t interrupt my story.”

“Sorry.”

“Anyway, once the Sisters arrived, we went on a jackal hunt. That’s what Kasaqa calls the Apostates, because she’s Egyptian...”

“Nubian, if you please,” interrupted Kasaqa.

“...right, Nubian. My apologies. That’s like calling a Welsh person English. Where was I? Oh yes. So we’re on the jackal hunt, and run out of silver ammunition. Must have killed at least forty of them, but there were lots more. So I had the idea to recalibrate the CIA spy satellite over Libya to detect the Apostates’ body temperature of 39.2 degrees Celsius. We located a large gathering of them, and I used my MI6 authority to call down a napalm strike.”

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Brian’s attempt at comic relief was pathetic.

“The stuff is rarely used anymore because of the high risk of collateral damage,” I continued, “but burning is just as effective against Apostates as silver, so I thought it worth the risk. The CIA took massive exception of the use of napalm, however, after all the bad press they got in Vietnam, and started to ask uncomfortable questions. Cynthia examined the satellite logs, discovering my manipulation. Just as I was trying to concoct an explanation which didn’t involve male werewolves, several Apostates attacked us at the mobile CIA listening-post. Since we had run out of silver bullets, there was no choice but to fight them the old-fashioned way, with tooth and claw. This happened right in front of Cynthia.”

“It was awesome,” said Cynthia. “Of course, I fainted at first because I can’t stand the sight of blood. I’m a techie and language specialist, you know, not field-trained. But when I woke up, these five naked women were standing around me, discussing whether to eat me or not. After a minute, I realised that they weren’t talking about group sex, so I pleaded with them to make me a werewolf too.”

“A werewolf who can’t stand the sight of blood,” smirked Brian. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

“Sure I do. The Sisters have told me all about it. Fighting evil wolf-men and having lots of werewolf sex. It’s totally cool.”

“Not to mention making the world safe for democracy.”

“Yeah, that too. A werewolf for the US of A.”

“About that,” I said. “We don’t work for any country. Your allegiance in future will be to the Sisterhood of the Wolf. Of course, we’ll need you to continue working for the CIA, but as a double-agent for the Sisterhood, just like I do for MI6. After your initiation, we will return you to Tripoli, where you will pretend to have escaped from al-Qaida. Following your debriefing, however, we must extract you before your next menstruation. For the first few months, you will undergo involuntary transformations whenever you have your period.”

“You mean like a bad case of PMS?”

“Very bad. You kill people. That’s why you need training. I will use my MI6 connections to have you reassigned to Cairo, where Kasaqa will teach you the ways of the Sisterhood.”

“Why me?” whined Kasaqa. “This was your idea.”

“You’re elected because Cynthia is fluent in the language and is needed in the Middle East.”

Kasaqa cursed in Arabic.

“Hey, I’m not that bad,” said Cynthia. “You’ll see. Inside of a year, I’ll be top dog around here.”

Everyone cringed.

“Somebody had better tell Cynthia that ‘dog’ is a word you shouldn’t use around werewolves,” said Brian.

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