Gen IV Chapter 28 - Dangers


After sitting through the all too familiar 13 hour flight Aerie knocked on same door she had over 8 years ago. She hadn't even knocked three times before the door swung open and she was wrapped in Ms. Wu's tight hug. “Welcome back!” she greeted as she hugged Aerie so tightly she thought she'd crack a rib.



They spent the next half-hour playing catch-up. Each with many questions, as well as how work was going overseas.



Eventually as Aerie knew they would, things drifted more into work related topics. After procrastinating for a bit Aerie went ahead and asked, “so why have Vincent tell me about the job? You usually call me yourself.” It was then Aerie saw a look of worry on Ms. Wu's face, her eyes lowered a bit and for a moment she even broke eye contact.

“Aerie, I know I usually call you directly, but when it comes to work we have to follow the chain of command. It wouldn't make sense for me to skip a few ladders down to tell you about a special job. Especially when it's Vincent's job to do so. Seeing her worried face Aerie started to notice it, a few extra lines, even a wrinkle or two. While still an attractive woman it was clear Ms. Wu was getting older.



It wasn't long until she regained her composure and continued. “You know I intentionally restrict you from doing any jobs that are too risky, you're like a little sister to me, and a daughter to Lu. I received quite a lecture from her when she found out I was sending you on this job, I thought she was going to kill me.”

Aerie's face grew concerned, “is it that dangerous?” “You now I can't lie to you, many others but not you. Yes, it is. And I feel terrible even asking you, but you're the only person we have skilled enough to pull off this job and come back safely. Correction, you're the only person we have skilled enough that we trust to do do this job. “What about Lu-” “Lu can't do jobs anymore...” Interrupted Wu. “She was- no, nevermind.”



Before Aerie could question about Lu, Ms. Wu was already shaking her head, “she can tell you herself if she wants. It's not my place.” She gave Aerie all of the details over dinner before calling it a night. “You're welcome to stay the night here if you want” she added, “I'll not have you sleep in some random resort.”

“I have it covered” laughed Aerie, “and no, it's not a resort. She traveled to her favorite campground, which to her surprise, was still there. After a peaceful night under the stars she changed into some workout clothes and went for a jog.

“Has it really been almost a decade?” she asked herself as she stood in front of the all to familiar statue once more. “I'm back..”



That night she paid the orchard a visit to gather some fruits, “much better than that dried food” she thought as her cell rang. She picked it up to find it was Iris. “Everything is fine mom, I'll be home in a couple of days.” After a brief chat and reassuring Iris of her safety she headed to the town market to the bookstore. Seeing her step in, even after all these years, the old shopkeeper smiled and pointed to the back stairs just like she used to. Aerie spent the next couple of hours making itinerary adjustments and organizing some of her finances.

 


Once everything was squared away she put her hair up into a pony and changed into her gear. She was glad she knew in advance that it was a job and prepared for it. Though light enough to move as she wanted, the fabric was resilient to withstand abuse. She gathered herself mentally as she climbed the stairs to the supposed entrance.



Her time spent here as a teen paid off as she instantly recognized the entrance and stepped on the proper stone to unlock the door.



Grateful she stayed in shape, it took little effort for her to clear the rubble.



The rooms never ceased to amaze her, vast yet simple.



One particular room (which she made sure to loot) also contained a key-hole. Sticking her arm in as she had done so many times before, seemed a bit different. “It feels... weird” she said to herself, “almost like...” Her eyes widened and she yanked her arm out, covered in insects and simgods knows what else. “Fuck! fuck! Fuck! Get off me!” Her arm now clear she kept mumbling, “ewww... Damn it I hate bugs...”



Once she was able to shake off the jitters and creepy thoughts of bugs still on her, Aerie made short work of any other obstacles.



Until she turned into a hallway that caused her to stop dead in her tracks. “You've got to be shitting me” she thought to herself. Looking around she noticed nothing in the area to shut off the never ending flames.



After taking a deep breath she let out a long sigh, “you only live once right?” Pushing her thoughts to the back of her mind Aerie bolted straight into the flames, stopping as she found herself on the other side.



“Well that wasn't too ba-” her words stopping abruptly as she ran screaming toward the well on the other side of the room, her butt in flames. “Next time I'll make sure I stop further away from the flames...” the thought to herself as she soaked in the water.



Hours have passed and she could feel fatigue setting in. “How big is this place?” she wondered, turning into what looked like a long hall. “Let's hope this place doesn't have many traps, my eyes are getting heavy..”



Turning a few corners Aerie found herself in a hall littered with traps. She stopped and laughed softly to herself shaking her head. “At least they're old and obvious.” She proceeded to disarm the simple traps as she made her way into a room that seemed to be a dead end.



Aerie's eyes widened as she looked upon her target, “It's just as Ms. Wu described... It must be worth a fortune!” Being very careful not to leave so much as a scratch on it, Aerie gently placed it in her pack. “I see what she meant by needing someone she could trust” she whispered to herself, “anyone else would probably try to run off and sell it themselves.”



By the time she woke and left the area, it was nearly midday. Ms. Wu wasted no time taking off to give the ancient relic to a trusted contact. But not before smothering Aerie in hugs with the promise of a very nice bonus to be wired to her bank account in 3 days time.



The next day Aerie had met Ms. Wu at the scholars garden to chat and share what she experienced during her job. As they both started to leave the garden towards the market Ms. Wu looked surprised as she took notice of an old woman in the distance heading their way. Limping badly as she inched toward them. “This is where we part for now” Ms. Wu spoke softly. Jumping the fence as she headed toward the other exit. She looked back at Aerie and shook her head, silently telling her not to follow.



As Aerie neared the market she found one of the locals, “who is she?” The woman turned, “the old woman heading over here? It's Ms. Lu, rumor says tha-” The moment Aerie heard the name she ran towards the old woman, “Lu!? Is that really you? What happened!?”



A smile spread across the old woman's lips, though her eyes looked saddened and tired. “Aerie... It's been years, how have you been?” “I've been great Lu, now tell me what happened!?” Lu's smile grew a bit, “simple, I'm not as young as I used to be. I had a full head of gray about two years after you left. It's just-” Lu cut off her own words as she saw Aerie's face full of obvious concern.

Her eyes kept tracing from Lu's cane, over her body and back to her eyes. It wasn't long before Aerie let out a long, shaky sigh. Tears now welling in her eyes as a single one streaked down her cheek. “I will ask again...” asked Aerie, her voice shaky and about to crack. “Lu... What... Happened?...”

Lu closed her eyes for a moment before answering. “It was about 6 months after you left Aerie, it's just a result of me getting old. I was coming back from a job when I saw a couple of men following Wu. They tried to kill her, and most likely would have had I not been there.

I took one of them out quickly while Wu defended herself against the other. I didn't think the other one had a gun... I couldn't make it in time to disarm him, I had just enough time to jump in front of Wu and took the shots... All 4 of them... Not because of her status in the family, but because she is like a daughter to me just as you are.

But she snapped, seeing me shot sent her into a rage like I've never seen... She didn't just disarm him and disable him like I had the other. She kept wailing on him... Kicks and punches with little regard to her body's well being... Even after the man could no longer defend himself and lost consciousness from blood loss, she just kept going... I think he was dead for a few minutes before she realized it and let him dropped to the ground. After that she somehow managed to get me on her back and carried me to a hospital. I wish I had never caused her to look like she did... Crying, scared out of her mind, and covered in my blood.



Lu let out a long sigh and wrapped her arms around Aerie. “I saw Wu with you.. Even now she can't look me in the eye for long without falling into tears. No doubt she is avoiding me right now because she doesn't want you to see her like that... She still blames herself for what happened and constantly asked why I did what I did. Claiming she should have taken the bullets..

But just as I told you, I think of you both as my daughters, and what kind of parent would allow their child shot in front of them? We told you how dangerous it would be, and even now I wish I could have changed your mind. This is why we don't let you do any dangerous jobs... We would never put you in harms way. So don't blame yourself either..” “But if I was here-” “No” interrupted Lu, if something would have happened to you I would never be able to forgive myself. It was good talking to you again Aerie. But I am tired and need to rest, next time you visit we will talk more and enjoy good tea.”

With that she headed home, and Aerie spent the next 10 minutes standing in tears. “Lu...” she sighed, picking up her cell to call Ms. Wu, she stopped halfway. “No” she thought, “Ms. Wu left for a reason, she won't tell me any more than Lu has..” After cleaning up her face she picked up her phone again. “I'm here on business... I need to report to work once I get back..”

She stood with her phone for a long moment, fighting the urge to go running to Lu's and asking for the name of the group who crippled her. The thought of her friend, her teacher of sim-fu being crippled, nearly sent her into tears again. “I'll be back soon” she thought to herself as she called a taxi to take her to the airport. “Back to Neverglade, back to work, back to Vincent...”



Until next chapter...



4 comments:

  1. Woooooow. Fabulous! Love the exploration pics, and the fire thing LOL you made me laugh.
    Interesting story for Ms. Lu.
    It is nice to see Aerie back in China, I know she loves it there. Great great update.

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  2. Thank you! I just wish she could live there. (Without mods) I just wish she could go more often, but it's not exactly cheap.

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  3. I always love it when Aerie returns to China. It's like her second home. And the people there have more insight into her than her biological family. I'm glad she came out of the tomb alive, what with all the death traps thrown her way.

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  4. I do as well, I wish there was a way to live there without having to resort to mods. The tomb really had a lot, took quite some time to clear. Thanks for reading!

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