Part 10

by CM Towns

   “I hate New York,” Fliopt said. He was seated on the couch in a small office, flipping through channels on the TV screwed into the wall. One of his fellow Harkin-or rather a cloned Harkin soldier-stood by the door silent, unflinching. Fliopt used clone equipment salvaged from the previous alien invasion to build a small Harkin cadre. Each altered slightly to feature physical differences(eyes, hair, size, gender) from the few originals who stood with him when he started this business.
   “You’re a great conversationalist,” Fliopt commented.
   “Sorry, sir,” he finally responded.
   Fliopt smirked. The Harkin originals were handling his operations elsewhere because they were the most trust worthy. The Harkin enchanter got up and walked over to the desk and took his seat. He glanced over the maps and picked up a dusty old book, quick flip through, before dropping it back on the desk.
   “Bored,” he said spinning around in his chair.

   Fliopt stared up at the ceiling and let his mind wander for a few moments. He was considering his lot in life. How Fliopt went from young, talented enchanter to criminal to terrorist in employ of an exiled queen which lead him to Earth. Stranded a long way from home and after Izam Mizers defeat he use his magic and resources to become a hot arms dealer. This reminded Fliopt why he was in New York and then once again his disdain of New York crept in ‘But at least it was marginally better than LA,’ he thought. Still Fliopt could not think of a single place in the United States he liked other than Hawaii. He liked Hawaii.
   Fliopt would prefer to be back at his private, secure, villa in Greece. Or even his safe house in Uzbekistan. Anywhere else but the US would be preferable. Personal business brought him back to the states. Sure he was doing some business with interested parties looking for a leg up on the competition, willing to invest in hardware illegal in most countries. That would make some money but not enough to justify him coming on this trip. No, Fliopt was after something else, something of greater interest to him. Something that has his men and local hires scouring Manhattan. has him holed up in a closed club. Office above with a connecting door into a modest apartment in the next building over. He wonders briefly how that came to be.
   Days after the settling on Earth Izam Mizer split her forces up to tackle various jobs. One group of soldiers would gather money and resources. A small group would do a historical overview on the planet. A third group, larger group, developed new weapons. The last group, which he assisted in, also looked into magical properties of Earth. Most of it was just classified as myths and legends but with the temple Barritis existence it meant there was some truth behind it. Now, years after their arrival, magic has grown stronger everyday which meant Fliopts knowledge and skill set were valuable.
   Fliopt and a few Harkin soldiers quickly took a stock of weapons, cut a deal with arms dealers in Ukraine and began working on new models. Fliopt and his men-along with some Ukranian heavies-grew the business quickly before exiting in a violent manner. It was hard work that first year but he felt better than being forced to work for any Human government. The last half year has been rougher in business with more competition, more superhuman active, and more work to avoid government agencies.
   There was a knock at the door and Fliopt invited them in. Liola, a female Harkin cloned and heavily altered from one of his captains walked in.
   “What do we got?” Fliopt asked as she approached.
   “Nothing. One team had to pull out because of police. The second is still underground,” Liola stated as she dropped a tablet and brought up a map.
   “Any clues and signs?” Fliopt questioned.
   “Matching scenery with these photos is hard. The building, destruction, rebuilding and so on. So many different routes, we’ve been mapping as we go of course,” Liola answered.
   “More police presence recently,” Fliopt said as he thought why.
   “Minor drones in the sky. NYPD is one of the most militaristic police forces on Earth,” Liola stated.
   “We can send out our Anti-Drones,” Liola suggested.
   “We only have a few and they’re costly. Rather save them until we need them,” Fliopt replied as he nodded. he was holding back the frustration inside.
   “I got some news coming about the meets,” Liola then said. Fliopt looked up at her and she continued, “Chinese want to meet tomorrow night. No word from the Russians.”
   “That doesn’t surprise me-they’ve never been happy with me. My competition in that area has been doing well.”
   “Their guns are inferior to ours. All their tools are inferior to ours,” Liola said.
   “But their cheaper and get the job done. On top of that I’m getting more and more push from the top guy. Been doing my best to keep to my own devices but with ash dropping off-” Fliopt stopped.
   “Thats what the statues for, right?”
   “Heh. I don’t know much about the statue,” Fliopt saying grabbing the photos that lead him back to New York. His brief time in Barritis, the temple that stood throughout time from the start of this solar system and home of magic throughout this sector of the universe. So many unanswered questions, so many mysteries of magic, so much that needed to be done within those halls. His time in there he saw ancient tomes, mysterious gems, and statues. The one in a picture he found from under Manhattan looked much like one in what appeared to be a trophy room. Fliopt knew there was more to it.
   “Old statues, gems, ancient weapons-they can be extremely useful. The gems that I have used as charms to allow us to walk around undetected. The blessed blades-dangerous when used. This old statue could give us a weapon to keep our more aggressive competitors back. Keep King off our back. If not, I can melt it down and use it for something else. Maybe a bomb of some sort. Do you know how much the syndicates and terrorists love magic bombs? They’re rare, have unpredictable results, and because of all that…” he paused, “It keeps us rolling in the finest of currencies and valuables which allows us some measure of freedom.”
   “Is this worth it? I know why but there must be other avenues,” Liola said.
   “Other avenues… The only one that secures us fully is going exclusive. I highly doubt that will do much. Kingdoms crumble. It might take time-decades, but it will happen. I want to be on top now, but I know when the writings on the wall it’ll be time to cut out,” Fliopt said.
   “You don’t see that writing yet?”
   “As annoying as the superhumans are-damned I hate that phrase… Lets use Gifted. Yes, these gifted humans have provided us with distraction. We might lose to them, and we might compete with each other, but it gives us a piece of the playing board. We move the pieces and try to keep them on. We have good pieces-not the best, but not running low. The writing will be on the wall when we start to lose too much ground,” Fliopt stated.
   “The statue will give us more pieces then.”
   “Possibly. We have to find it first,” Fliopt said taking a look at the map on Liola’s tablet.
   “So what’s the next move boss?” asked Liola.
   “We’ll look over the notes and maps we’ve gathered and made and keep trying. We might need outside eyes to take a look at what we have. A fresh perspective,” Fliopt said.
   Liola smiled, “I know what you’re suggesting?”
   Fliopt raised an eye brow at her, he was not eluding to anything.
   “We’ve been going at this alone but this state is filled with humans who know more than us. Adventurers, educators-people we can use to find it,” Liola stated.
   Fliopt snapped his finger and said, “Exactly what I was thinking. We have been going in alone, keeping to ourselves, trying to avoid any actions that would cause problems but with the cops and feds, might as well start.”
   “I will handle it,” Liola offered.
   Fliopt nodded and she excused herself.
   Fliopt looked over the photo of the statue again, buried somewhere in Manhattan and smirked. One of the secrets of Barritis so close to his grasp.